DETROIT – A 16-year-old Detroit boy will stay behind bars on a $400,000 bond while awaiting trial on accusations he triggered a mob's severe beating of a suburban man who accidentally struck a 10-year-old with his pickup truck, a juvenile court judge ruled Thursday.
Defense lawyer Solomon Radner argued that the bond was excessive and said his client, who's charged with intent to do great bodily harm and ethnic intimidation, is not a flight risk. Assistant Prosecutor Hervey Jenkins said the seriousness of the charges, as well as the teen's truancy record and positive test for marijuana, justify the bond amount.
At a hearing that lasted eight minutes, Wayne County Judge Jerome Cavanagh declined to lower the bond and did not comment on why. He set a jury trial for June 23-25, but Radner told the judge he was talking with prosecutors about the possibility of avoiding a trial.
The teen entered court in handcuffs, which were unlocked before he sat down with his parents, the defense lawyer and the prosecutor around a conference table in front of the judge.
He is charged in the April 2 beating of Steve Utash, 54, on Detroit's east side. A crowd punched and kicked Utash as he stopped to check on 10-year-old David Harris, who was struck when he stepped in front of Utash's truck.
Utash, who is from Macomb County's Clinton Township, spent days in a coma and remains hospitalized with severe head injuries.
Four other males, ages 17 to 30, face the more serious adult charge of assault with intent to murder. A probable cause hearing to decide whether to hold a trial is scheduled Monday for Bruce Wimbush Jr., 17; Latrez Cummings, 19; James Davis, 24; and Wonzey Saffold, 30.
The victim is white and those charged in the attack are black. The 16-year-old is the only defendant charged with a racially motivated offense, and Radner said it's unjustified.
"What happened here as alleged is a spur-of-the-moment thing. The accident triggered things," Radner told reporters after the hearing. "In my mind, ethnic intimidation is burning a cross on someone's lawn, painting a swastika on a synagogue, a lynching."
He declined to comment on what the teen allegedly did to be accused of ethnic intimidation. Police and prosecutors also haven't disclosed the basis for the charge.
Asked if his client had remorse, Radner said: "Obviously, there are sorry feelings for what happened."