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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Driver clings to life after beating by attackers; boy expected to recover

    Driver clings to life after beating by attackers; boy expected to recover

    12:03 PM, April 4, 2014

    Steve Utash poses in an undated family photo with, from left, Mandi, Joe and Felicia Utash. / Utash family photo

    By Katrease Stafford and Robert Allen
    Detroit Free Press Staff Writers

    Surveillance video shows collision that led to bea...: Clark gas station surveillance footage shows a pickup truck hitting an 11-year-old boy shortly before the driver, who stopped to help, was severely beaten, police say.

    David Harris, 10


    Steve Utash, a tree trimmer from Roseville, is a good guy, the kind who cares about others and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it, his daughter says.

    Thursday night, his family was keeping vigil at St. John Hospital and Medical Center, where he was unconscious and clinging to life after being beaten by a group of men on Detroit’s east side Wednesday. The attack happened after his pickup truck hit 10-year-old David Harris, who stepped off a curb into its path.

    His daughter, Felicia Utash, said that after he was beaten, he was robbed of his money, his wallet and his credit cards.

    Utash, 20, said her family is devastated.

    “What happened to my dad is a shame,” she said via a Facebook message. “He was doing the right thing like he always does.”

    “He’s a tree trimmer for a living and makes sure all the squirrels were out of a tree before he cut it down,” Utash said. “He’s an amazing dad and person. He’s very loved, and those kids should be ashamed.”

    She said her father suffered multiple head injuries and still had not regained consciousness Thursday night. He doesn’t have health insurance, and the family plans to set up a fund-raiser to cover his hospital bill.

    At a Thursday news conference, Detroit police Sgt. Michael Woody said Steve Utash “is still in critical condition, and it’s really not looking all that good.”

    The boy was also taken to St. John.

    James Duston Jr., David’s godfather, said the boy is not out of the hospital yet. Duston said David has abrasions on his knee, swelling on his lip and is having problems with one of his feet.

    According to Felicia Utash, her father was on his way home from work in his company’s pickup when the accident happened.

    Steve Utash got out to check on him and attempted to render aid at about 4:10 p.m. near Morang and Balfour. A large group of men quickly gathered and began beating Utash, according to Woody.

    Police have said they don’t believe Utash was speeding or broke any traffic laws. Woody said that the preliminary investigation indicates the boy stepped in front of the pickup.

    The child’s relatives insist that none of them touched Utash. Duston and the boy’s uncle, 29-year-old Desmond Key, said they heard people saying the driver tried to flee when he was beaten, but they didn’t see anything to indicate that he was trying to run away.

    Duston said he and Key were at a nearby house when they heard from one of David’s friends that he was hit. They arrived on scene and saw him.

    They said they saw the little boy on the ground “screaming and blood just coming out his mouth,” Key said. “I’m sorry that guy got hurt, but our family didn’t have anything to do with that guy getting hurt.”

    Key said it was a scary and highly emotional scene, with the boy screaming and people running to the scene.

    “We understood that David ran into the street. We understand that,” Duston said.

    “He’s swollen he’s got abrasions, and he’s hurting,” Duston said of his godson, adding that he’ll recover.

    “We don’t know who they are,” Key said of the people who beat Utash. Police arrested the child’s father on an unrelated warrant and are questioning him about what he knows in regard to the assault, Woody said.

    “Whether or not he was actually involved in the assault, that still has yet to be determined,” Woody said.

    Mike Berry, 29, manager at the nearby Lucky 7 party store, said he heard the commotion outside Wednesday but didn’t see much because he was protecting his store.

    People were running around, and he stood just inside the door for fear that people would try to loot his shelves, he said.

    Woody said the area around the gas station is a popular neighborhood hangout. After the accident, 20-30 people came to the scene, Woody said. He said about 10-12 people are believed to have been involved in the beating.

    Woody said the incident is tragic for the families involved.

    “What we want to remind everybody, not just the citizens that live here, but those that work and play here, as well, is that ... this is not conducive to how the city of Detroit generally handles things,” Woody said. “This is very much an anomaly. It’s very much a shock to all of us. I would ask that everybody reserve their judgments. Right now, we have a man that’s in the hospital fighting for his life. We have a young boy that I understand is also still in the hospital. He is recovering.”

    Felicia Utash said the family will announce a fund-raiser in the coming days to help cover her father’s bills.

    “He doesn’t deserve to have (medical bills) hanging over his head forever,” she said. “This isn’t fair by any means. It hurts me to know how much pain he’s in, and there’s nothing I can do about it but sit here with my sister and hope for the best.”

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  2. #2
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    White Man Beaten By Mob In Detroit After Hitting Boy With Truck: Was It A Hate Crime?

    April 4, 2014 6:55 AM

    A man who struck a boy with his pickup truck was beaten by a crowd near this corner gas station, police said. (Credit: Mike Campbell/WWJ Newsradio 950)

    DETROIT (WWJ) - As a 54-year-old Roseville man clings to life in the hospital following a brutal mob beating on Detroit’s east side, many are starting to wonder if the whole thing was racially motivated.

    As first reported by WWJ Newsradio 950, an 11-year-old boy suffered a broken leg on Wednesday when he was hit by a pickup truck after walking into the street near Morang and Balfour. The driver, Steven Utash, immediately got out of his truck after hitting the boy and was viciously attacked by 10 to 12 men. The beating was so brutal, Utash was rendered unconscious.

    Utash’s son Joseph told WWJ’s Gary Lundy Thursday night that his father remains in a medically induced coma, nearly unrecognizable due to his injuries. He also said his wallet was stolen from his truck.

    “If it went on any longer, my dad wouldn’t be in the hospital right now, he would be in the morgue. The way he looked, I am surprised that he is alive,” he said. “He has bruising over his face, his eyes are swollen, I believe it’s his left eye that is completely swollen shut. He also has a big, huge knot on his forehead like he got hit with an object, not a fist.”

    Joseph Utash said he was working with his father in Detroit just hours before the attack. Both of the men are tree-trimmers, working in the city for years now.

    “I came home from work and it was on the news, my dad’s pickup truck, and I was just like ‘Oh my god.’ Then I heard that he hit a kid and I was like freaking out that my dad hit a kid. And then I heard that bystanders just beat him up and I just, I called my mom immediately,” he said. ”From what I’m hearing is he tried to fight back, but trying to fight back against 11 people fighting you, that’s 22 fists coming at you at once, you can’t really do much.”

    Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody said Steven Utash was not at fault for the accident.

    “Our preliminary investigation shows the child stepped in front of his vehicle,” Woody said. “He did exactly the right thing. He stopped his vehicle, he got out and he tried to render aid to a small child. He did exactly what he was supposed to do… It was a small child and it was an accident; is what it was.”

    State Rep. Alberta Tinsley Talabi (D-Detroit), told WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton the incident appears to have racial overtones, adding, “it’s wrong.”

    Joseph Utash said although it was tough to stomach, he watched video of the incident.

    “It shows the kid, he was standing on the curb with his dad and as my dad’s truck was coming down the street, the kid stepped right in front of my dad’s truck. My dad had absolutely not one chance in the world to try to swerve out-of-the-way or stop,” he said. “He got out of the car to check on the kid and before he even got up to the kid, he got assaulted by 11, 12 people. They jumped all over him and beat him up. While they were jumping him, somebody else jumped in the truck and stole his belongings. They took his wallet, his cellphone, everything out of his truck.”

    Sgt. Woody said the gas station at the corner where the accident happened is a popular neighborhood gathering place, so it was no surprise that there were 20 or 30 people at the scene of the attack.

    “It didn’t take very long for people to converge on the area when they saw the accident take place,” Woody said. “When the child was struck, he was in a lot of pain, there was screaming and crying. He was terrified, I’m sure, and I think that’s what drew the attention of the people in the immediate area.”

    One woman stepped in to help Steven Utash. Nurse Debra Hughes intervened and stopped the attack: “He was already down, bleeding from the mouth and the nose – so there wasn’t nothing else they could do to him but kill him,” she said.

    “Then EMS came and I kept him calm, I kept his hands down and everything so he could be comfortable,” said Hughes. “He had the biggest gash on his head I ever seen – he was bleeding from the mouth and he was unconscious when I first got there … being a registered nurse, I thought I could go out and help him.”

    Joseph Utash said he believes his father was intentionally targeted or even worse, that skin color might have played a role. Based on witness accounts, the attackers were African American.

    “I’ve talked to one Detroit police officer and I think that, personally in my own heart, I think it was all a setup from the gate,” he said, ”meaning that my dad’s been driving up and down Morang for 15, 16 years working for the same company and they know he has a job, they know he has money and they robbed him. You know, he had a bag with all his stuff in it. He showed me that he had all this money in his wallet that morning, telling me he just took the money out of the bank so he could pay his dentist.

    “As far as a hate crime, it might be,” he said. “You know, it’s like you go in Detroit and you’re white, you don’t belong. Seriously. I’ve been pulled over by police before and they’re like ‘Get back across 8 Mile,’ like I’m not supposed to be over there, like I’m not allowed to go in Detroit.”

    Police declined to say if investigators thought the attack was racially charged.

    The boy, David Harris, is expected to recover from his injuries, according to his uncle, Desmond Key. No arrests have been made in the beating, but the boy’s father was taken into custody, on an unrelated warrant.

    “At this point, based on [the pickup driver's] condition, there’s some pretty serious charges that we’re looking at,” Sgt. Woody said.
    Police are hoping the public can help investigators find those responsible for the beating.

    Anyone who witnessed the attack, can identify the assailants, or who has any information about this case is urged to call Detroit police at 313-596-1616. Tips can be made anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    APRIL 7, 2014 AT 11:51 PM
    4 in custody as Detroit beating probe widens into hate crime investigation



    Motorist beaten in Detroit: A motorist was attacked and robbed by a crowd Wednesday after he stopped to aid a 10-year-old boy he accidentally struck with his pickup.

    Detroit — With four suspects now in custody, police and prosecutors are “widening the scope” of their investigation into last week’s beating of a 54-year-old white motorist to include the possibility that the mob assault was a hate crime, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Monday.

    Two more suspects, ages 24 and 30, were arrested Monday in connection with the April 2 beating of Steven Utash of Clinton Township, while prosecutors announced charges against a 17-year-old and questioned a 16-year-old, both in custody.

    Meanwhile, the victim remains in critical condition in a medically induced coma at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.

    Craig said reports that Utash was robbed by the mob are false.

    “We’re widening the scope of our investigation,” Craig said when asked if the beating constituted a hate crime. “Both our strategy and the prosecutor’s strategy is widening, and those factors are being looked into very closely. I can’t reveal some things about our investigation, but that is definitely something we’re considering.”

    Hate crimes may be charged locally or federally. In addition to federal laws, which carry up to 10 years in prison, Michigan ethnic intimidation statute is a two-year felony.

    Maria Miller, spokeswoman for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, declined to comment on the hate crime aspect because the case is ongoing. Prosecutor Kym Worthy on Monday charged 17-year-old Bruce Edward Wimbush Jr. in connection with Utash’s beating.
    Wimbush is charged with assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm.

    He was to be arraigned Monday in 36th District Court, but the hearing was postponed, and will likely take place this morning, Miller said.
    “The facts of this case are unbelievably tragic,” Worthy said in a statement. “We have charged this defendant with a capital offense.”

    In reviewing a warrant request against the 16-year-old in custody, prosecutors are trying to determine whether he should be charged as an adult. That teen is being held in the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Center, according to Worthy.

    “By law, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is able to take five days to determine whether the respondent will be charged as an adult,” the prosecutor’s office said.

    The 16-year-old appeared in court Monday afternoon before Referee Anthony Crutchfield at the Juvenile Detention Center. The suspect is due back in court on Saturday.

    Wimbush was ruled “incorrigible” by juvenile authorities in 2007, 2008 and 2010, according to court documents, although Wimbush’s files were unavailable Monday. In Michigan, being ruled incorrigible means a minor is guilty of repeated, serious misconduct.

    The 16-year-old, who will turn 17 on May 19, has a 2012 truancy incident on his record, court records show. His parents and other relatives left the Wayne County juvenile center downtown without commenting to reporters about the charges.

    An elderly woman claiming to be the boy’s relative said of Utash: “We pray he comes back to his natural state.”

    Utash, a tree-trimmer, was on his way home from work at about 4:10 p.m. when police say he accidentally struck 10-year-old David Harris near Morang and McKinney.

    When Utash left his pickup to check on the boy, a group of about 12 men from the neighborhood began to beat him, police said.

    Police said Utash was not at fault in the accident and that the 10-year-old is recovering.

    Craig blamed “a culture of violence” for the situation.

    “I’ve not seen this kind of violent culture in other cities,” Craig said. “It certainly exists, but not to this extent. Several mornings ago, a 71-year-old man was beaten by a two-by-four. This happens in other places, too, but it’s all too common here. And Detroiters are getting fed up. They’re tired of being victims.”

    Craig said he’s doing what he can to quell the city’s violence, and pointed out that crime is down since he took over as chief in July.

    As of late Monday afternoon, nearly $120,000 had been raised online to help with medical expenses for Utash, who is self-employed and did not have health coverage, relatives said. The original goal was $50,000. However, family members say the cost of his treatments is running $17,000 to $20,000 daily.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    APRIL 8, 2014 AT 6:34 AM

    Retired nurse gets mob in Detroit to back off, stop beating driver




    Deborah Hughes rushed from her home to help the boy and, then, the driver. (Elizabeth Conley / The Detroit News)

    Detroit — Deborah Hughes stood up to a ferocious mob and possibly saved a man’s life.

    The retired nurse said Monday she didn’t hesitate when she saw a group of men savagely beating Steven Utash last week, after he got out of his pickup on the city’s east side to check on a 10-year-old boy he had hit with his vehicle.

    “Nothing was really going through my head, other than ‘They need to stop beating this man,’ ” said Hughes, 56.

    The incident started about 4:10 p.m., when Utash, a tree trimmer, accidently struck 10-year-old David Harris near Morang and McKinney. Hughes, who lives across the street, said events unfolded quickly.
    “I looked out the window and saw that the boy had been hit, so I threw on my coat and ran out there,” said Hughes, who is retired from the St. James Nursing Center in Detroit.

    Hughes also made sure to pack her .38 caliber pistol. “You have to carry a gun around here,” she said. “This neighborhood is terrible. I don’t walk around without my gun.

    “I saw the boy all by himself, crying,” Hughes said. “His father was in the store. He came out, and I told him, ‘I’m a nurse; don’t touch him. Let him lay there.’ The baby was crying so hard, and I talked to him and tried to calm him down.

    “About that time, I saw (Utash) get out of his truck; he came running up saying, ‘Oh, my God, tell me he’s all right. Please tell me he’s all right.’ He was hysterical.”

    The crowd that had gathered suddenly attacked Utash, Hughes said.
    “He was screaming, and they were beating him, and kicking him,” she said.

    Although police on Monday said they’re expanding their investigation to include the possibility that the attack was a hate crime, Hughes said she didn’t see anything to suggest that.

    “I didn’t hear anything racial, but it’s hard to tell everything that was being said because people were all yelling at the same time. I know some people were screaming, ‘You hit my cousin,’ and ‘You hit my nephew,’ but I didn’t hear anyone say ‘You white so-and-so’ or anything like that.”

    Hughes said she ran toward the mob to try to intervene.

    “I said ‘Please don’t hit him anymore,’ and they backed up. Everybody cleared the way and gave me room to work on him. Nobody cussed me; they didn’t attack me. They just let me do what I needed to do.

    “I massaged (Utash’s) neck, and got his circulation going. He woke up and started swinging and kicking. By this time, the EMS came, and me and the EMS driver tied him down and put him in the ambulance.”

    University of Detroit-Mercy criminal justice professor Mike Witkowski said it doesn’t take much to ignite a crowd — or de-escalate a violent situation.

    “All it takes is one person to say ‘Get him,’ and a few follow along, and then there’s a belief by the rest of the crowd that it’s their duty to participate and exact revenge for some perceived injustice or perceived wrong,” Witkowski said.

    “In situations like this, you just need someone to act as a peacemaker. For something like this to occur, you need a suitable victim, motivated offenders, and an absence of guardianship, where there’s no one around to intervene. Luckily, this woman was there to act as a guardian in that triangle, and she quite possibly saved this man’s life.”

    Hughes shrugged off claims that she’s a hero.

    “You just have to do the right thing,” she said.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Effort to whitewash Detroit beating suspect begins

    By Detroit Free Press (MI)
    April 18, 2014

    The attorney representing the Detroit teen accused of being an instigator in the mob attack on a Macomb County man earlier this month said the hate crime charge against his client is inappropriate, calling it a "spur of the moment" situation.

    "A hate crime to me is burning a cross on somebody's lawn because of their race or color," lynching someone or painting swastikas on a synagogue, said Attorney Solomon Radner of Southfield following a brief court hearing today.

    Radner noted that the teen is sorry about the situation. The teen is charged in the April 2 beating of Steve Utash, 54, of Clinton Township on Detroit's east side. Utash was attacked after he stopped to check on a 10-year-old boy struck by his vehicle as he drove on Morang.

    The 16-year-old boy, who turns 17 in May, appeared in the Lincoln Hall of Justice in Detroit before Judge Jerome Cavanagh, who set a trial date of June 23-25 and kept the teen's bail at $400,000.

    The teen, who is charged as a juvenile, faces assault with intent to do great bodily harm and ethnic intimidation charges. He is the youngest of the five defendants charged to date and the only one to be charged with a hate crime.

    Solomon argued unsuccessfully for a lesser bail, calling the attack that left Utash with head injuries "a spur of the moment reaction to something that took place in his neighborhood." He said the teen would not be able to afford $400,000.

    However, Assistant Prosecutor Hervey Jenkins noted that even though Utash appears to be improving, his recovery remains in question.

    "This case could very easily have been charged with inciting a riot or insurrection with the events that occurred," Jenkins said.

    At a court hearing Saturday, prosecutors said the teen -- whom the Free Press is not naming because he is a juvenile -- was one of the first to throw punches as the mob attacked Utash.

    Utash was kept in a medically induced coma until last week, but family members have told the Free Press that despite severe head injuries Utash is now improving slightly every day. More than $179,300 had been raised as of this afternoon through the page set up for Utash's medical bills.

    Four adults -- Bruce Wimbush Jr., Wonzey Saffold, James Davis and Latrez Cummings -- are charged with assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm in the attack and are scheduled for their preliminary examinations on Monday.


  6. #6
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Participant gets year in jail for Detroit driver beating

    Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press12:33 p.m. EDT July 10, 2014

    (Photo: David Coates, AP)

    DETROIT — One of four Detroit men who admitted to taking part in April's severe beating of Steven Utash received a sentence below the legal guidelines Thursday despite the prosecutor's objection.

    James Deontae Davis, 24, was given a year in jail or work release with five years of probation after an "honest expression of remorse and apologies," said Judge James Callahan of Wayne County Circuit Court.

    A pre-sentencing report set guidelines from 19 months to more than three years in prison.

    Davis and Latrez Cummings, 19, were to be the last two sentenced in the brutal beating that left Utash, 54, in a coma for 10 days in April.

    Callahan delayed Cummings' sentencing to July 17 as lawyers try to confirm whether he was enrolled in school remotely at the time of the April 2 beating, as he claims.

    Utash continues to recover from severe head injuries, suffered when he was knocked off his feet and pummeled after he hit a 10-year-old boy who stepped off a curb in front of his truck. Relatives said Utash has brain damage resulting from the beating from as many as 20 people.

    MONDAY: Family asks for maximum sentence after mob beating
    JUNE: 3 suspects plead guilty in Detroit driver beating

    Two of Utash's family members were in court but didn't speak. They could be seen shaking their heads as the Davis sentencing proceeded.

    "I'd be upset if I was them, too," Davis' lawyer, Jason Malkowicz, said afterward. "But I think the judge did what he had to do, and he did the right thing. I think he was fair."

    James Davis, in court on June 19, 2014 in Detroit, pleaded guilty to beating Steve Utash.(Photo: Daniel Mears, AP)

    On Monday, the victim's relatives gave highly emotional statements.

    Davis named Utash and his family members, as well as the city of Detroit, in his apologies.

    "I know the city's already got a bad name, and I know that incident that took place, that I joined in, didn't make the city look any better," he said. "I don't want my whole life to be judged on that one moment."

    He said he wants to go to school and get a job.

    Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey made clear her objection to the sentence and might appeal.

    But Malkowicz said later that because of some dispute to the guidelines, an appeals court could give Davis a sentence of even less time.

    The judge acknowledged that he received numerous letters of support from Davis' loved ones, many of whom were in the courtroom.

    Callahan also said that he was "embarrassed" that he let Steve Utash's brother, Ken Utash, go as far as he did with his Monday statements. Ken Utash used the F-word, then briefly apologized as he pointed and raised his voice at Wonzey Saffold, another defendant who was sentenced to six to 10 years in prison.

    Steven Utash was released from the hospital May 17, 2014, six weeks after he was severely beaten after he accidentally hit a 10-year-old boy with his pick-up.(Photo: Courtesy of Utash family)

    Also Monday, another defendant, Bruce Wimbush Jr., who has no prior criminal history, was given three years of probation under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act and must submit to drug screenings, the judge said. The 17-year-old, who was charged in juvenile court because he was 16 at the time of the incident, admitted guilt to a similar assault charge.

    As part of the plea agreement, a charge of ethnic intimidation was dismissed. Solomon Radner, Wimbush's lawyer, said the teen 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. It carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

    The beating created a public swell of support for the Utash family with many donating money to help offset Steve Utash's medical bills. Steve Utash hasn't attended any of the court hearings for the five accused in the beating.

    On Monday, his daughter Mandi Emerick read a statement from him.

    When Steve Utash finally woke up and saw his head, it "looked like a mushroom," and the brain injuries have made him unable to drive, work "or make financial decisions on my own," Mandi Emerick read. "I don't understand what kind of defense they can use to explain their animal-like behavior."


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