DETROIT – Four men accused of punching and kicking a motorist who accidentally struck a 10-year-old Detroit boy were ordered Monday to stand trial on attempted murder charges, after a judge reviewed their statements to police and witnesses testified about the chaotic mob attack.
As Steve Utash continued to recover in a hospital bed, Judge Thomas Jackson found probable cause to move the case to trial in Wayne County Circuit Court.
Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey introduced statements to police from Latrez Cummings, 19, James Davis, 24, and Wonzey Saffold, 30, all acknowledging a role in the April 2 attack. They were ordered to trial, along with Bruce Wimbush Jr., 17, who waived the hearing.
"I pray for the man every day. I hope him and the boy are going to be OK," Cummings told police, according to Lindsey.
Witnesses to the attack described a chaotic scene.
"They were hollerin' and screamin', `Oh, my God, get him, get him,"' witness Deborah Hughes testified.
Another witness, Ashley Daniels, said Utash was attacked after he got out of his pickup to check on the boy. She said he was stumbling and his hat was knocked off after some early blows.
Daniels said Utash was dared to pick up his hat before he was hit again.
"He fell. He got up again," she said. "It was like he was almost accepting it."
Utash, 54, of Macomb County's Clinton Township, is a tree trimmer who was familiar with the east side Detroit neighborhood where a boy darted out in front of his pickup. He spent days in a coma after the beating.
Jackson noted that the legal threshold to keep the case moving at this stage is low. Defense attorneys said Utash's injuries were awful but an attempted murder charge was too severe.
"One or two may not be enough to kill anyone," the judge said of punches and kicks, "but a combination may be enough to cause one's death."
Separately, a 16-year-old boy is charged in Juvenile Court with assault and ethnic intimidation in the case. He and the other defendants are black; Utash is white.