DETROIT (WWJ) – One of five men charged in the mob beating of Steven Utash in Detroit has pleaded guilty.
In a deal with prosecutors, Bruce Wimbush, 18, pleaded guilty to assault to do great bodily harm less than murder — a reduction from the original charge of assault with intent to murder.
Wimbush said he was on his way home from school at East English Village when he saw Utash strike a young boy with his pickup truck. Wimbush said, since he has a little brother, he became emotional and joined a crowd of people attacking Utash, punching the older man in the jaw.
Wimbush, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident and has no prior criminal record, has agreed to testify against his co-defendants in the case.
“There is a sentence agreement that in exchange for the plea reduction Wimbush will cooperate by testifying in future proceedings related to the assault of Mr. Utash, and in return for his truthful testimony the prosecution will not object if the court sentences Wimbush under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA),” a statement from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office reads.
HYTA means that, after a probationary period, Wimbush’s criminal record could be wiped clean.
Wimbush was released on a $20,000 personal bond on the condition that he wear a GPS tether.
Also charged in the case are 19-year old Latrez Cummings, 24-year-old James Davis, 30-year-old Wonzey Saffold, and a 16-year-old boy charged as a juvenile.
Cummings, Davis and Saffold are charged with assault with intent to murder and assault intent to do great bodily harm. The 16-year-old is facing assault and ethnic intimidation charges as it’s alleged the attack was racially motivated. Utash is white and the mob was described as all black.
Sentencing for Wimbush is set for July 7.
Saffold, Davis, and Cummings will be in court on Thursday, June 19 for a final conference. The 16-year-old will be in court next Monday.
WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton expects more pleas will be forthcoming.
“Because the prosecution now has a witness who was there, who saw it and who is cooperating with both the police and the prosecutor,” said Langton, “I would expect pleas from everybody in this Utash case.”
Utash, 54, spent days in a coma after the April 2 beating in which, witnesses said, up to a dozen people participated. The boy he struck with his truck suffered a broken leg.