Ethnic Intimidation? I never heard that term in the Zimmerman trial. I heard hate crime a lot. I didn’t hear Obama saying this could be his brother/son/father. I didn’t hear any cries from NAACP that this was racially motivated. About the only thing I agree with is the judge’s statement that these boys need a father. Oh wait – was that racially offense? This could have been me driving through the city dodging kids that walk out in front of me and challenge me to not hit them.
6-month sentence for driver’s attacker angers prosecutor
DETROIT — A prosecutor strongly opposed a judge’s decision Thursday to give a lighter sentence to the last of those accused in the severe beating of a 54-year-old man who stopped in their neighborhood after inadvertently hitting a child with his pickup.
Latrez Cummings, 19, misled the judge about his school enrollment status, is reported to be a foot soldier for a gang and claimed a back injury kept him out of work before he violently attacked Steven Utash, said Lisa Lindsey, assistant Wayne County prosecutor.
“There is nothing in this report (that is) favorable to this young man,” Lindsey said of a report that determined sentencing guidelines, adding that nothing indicates he should get leniency.
Third Judicial Circuit Judge James Callahan sent Cummings to jail for six months as part of a three-year intensive probation sentence.
Of the four men who admitted to assaulting Utash and took plea deals, two received sentences drawing outspoken disapproval from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. Earlier this week, the prosecutor’s office announced it was filing a motion for a re-sentence after James Deontae Davis, 24, was given a year in jail as part of a five-year probation sentence. That motion will be heard July 25.
Utash of Clinton Township, Mich., is still recovering from severe head injuries suffered when he was knocked off his feet and pummeled after the truck he was driving April 2 hit a 10-year-old boy who stepped off a curb into traffic. Relatives said Utash has brain damage that has impaired his ability to drive, work and make financial decisions.
The boy, who has not been identified, was hospitalized briefly after the incident but was expected to make a full recovery, police have said.
Callahan said Cummings’ sentence was appropriate. At one point, he asked Cummings about his father, and the teen replied that he doesn’t know him.
“That’s what you have needed in your life is a father,” the judge said, adding that Cummings needed discipline, “somebody to beat the hell out of you when you made a mistake.”
“We’ve all been 19 years of age,” Callahan said in response to Lindsey’s objections.
An exchange between the judge and prosecutor became heated, as Lindsey argued that Cummings’ personal life is no excuse for the severe beating. Cummings was sentenced under Michigan’s Holmes Youthful Training Act, meaning he eventually could have the felony assault wiped from his permanent record.
Based on the sentencing guidelines Callahan approved that Lindsey “strenuously and vehemently” objected to, Cummings could have received five to 23 months of incarceration. The other three defendants received their sentences last week, and Callahan postponed Cummings’ sentence to give lawyers time to determine whether claims that he was enrolled in school online were accurate.
They weren’t, Callahan said Thursday.
“If someone lies to me, I have very little if any respect for them,” he said.
Cummings said Thursday that he had tried to enroll, but classes were full. Instead, he said he was taking care of his daughter.
He pleaded guilty to the same assault charge as the three other adults accused in the case. They received sentences last week ranging from probation to more than six years in prison.
All of them admitted to hitting or kicking the defenseless Utash at least once or twice.
The four adults and one juvenile were the only people charged since the beating, which Lindsey said involved up to 20 assailants on Detroit’s east side. Only three witnesses came forward to help with the investigation, and that limited the strength of the case.
Wonzey Saffold, 30, received a sentence of six to 10 years in prison, in part because of previous convictions. Bruce Wimbush Jr., 18, who has no prior criminal history, was given three years of probation under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act and must submit to drug screenings.
A 17-year-old charged in juvenile court because he was 16 at the time of the incident, admitted to a similar assault charge. As part of the plea agreement, a charge of ethnic intimidation was dismissed.
Solomon Radner, the unidentified juvenile’s lawyer, said he will go into a residential placement program. The teen is to be back in court Sept. 17 for a review hearing.
All defendants admitted guilt to assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The beating created a public swell of support for the Utash family and many people donated money to help offset his medical bills.