DETROIT (WWJ) – He’s the second of five suspects to make a deal. The teen who threw the first punches in a mob beating of a suburban man in Detroit has pleaded guilty to assault.
In exchange, prosecutors dropped an ethnic intimidation charge against the 17-year-old as part of the plea deal Wednesday in Wayne County Juvenile Court.
The teen, who is black, was one of five people charged with beating 54-year-old Steve Utash when the white man got out of his pickup to help a boy who he’d accidentally struck with his pickup truck in April.
Utash spent days in a coma and was sent home in May after six weeks of hospitalization after the beating in which witnesses said up to a dozen people took part. He’s still recovering from a brain injury.
The young man’s attorney, Solomon Radner said his teen reacted emotionally, and regrets his actions.
“After he realized that he was a party to a very violent attack on Mr. Utash, he was completely beside himself, and spend many nights not able to sleep knowing that he had a role in very seriously injuring somebody,” Radner said.
He said this case was never about race.
“He saw a little boy get hit; there was a little boy lying in the street bleeding and crying,” Radner said. “The uncovered some very deep, emotional feelings in my client.”
Radner said his client admits he made a bad decision but maintains he shouted no racial slurs, ran away and didn’t know a mob would continue to pummel Utash after he’d struck the older man twice in the head.
The teen’s case is in Juvenile Court because he was 16 at the time of the attack. The youngest defendant in the case, he’s agreed to testify against the others.
He’ll be held in a juvenile rehabilitation facility until at least September and was ordered to pay restitution.
An older teen, charged as an adult, pleaded guilty to assault Monday in an agreement with prosecutors. The 18-year-old Bruce Wimbush, who was 17 at the time of the attack, agreed to testify against his co-defendants in exchange for a reduction from the original charge of assault with intent to murder.
Also charged in the case are 19-year old Latrez Cummings, 24-year-old James Davis and 30-year-old Wonzey Saffold.
All three, each charged with assault with intent to murder and assault intent to do great bodily harm, will be in court on Thursday for a final conference.
Sentencing for Wimbush is set for July 7.
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