Man jailed in Detroit mob beating needed father -judge

Thu Jul 17, 2014 2:40pm EDT

Family members of Steve Utash watch from the back of the courtroom during the preliminary examination of co-defendants Latrez Cummings (R), James Davis and Wonzy Saffold in the beating of motorist Steve Utash after he accidentally struck and injured a child with his truck in Detroit, Michigan April 21, 2014.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Family members of Steve Utash watch from the back of the courtroom during the preliminary examination of co-defendants Latrez Cummings (R), James Davis and Wonzy Saffold in the beating of motorist Steve Utash after he accidentally struck and injured a child with his truck in Detroit, Michigan April 21, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook

Related Topics

(Reuters) - A judge on Thursday told a man who pleaded guilty to being part of a mob assault on a motorist in Detroit that he had needed a father "to beat the hell out of you" and then sentenced the defendant to six months in jail.

Latrez Cummings, 19, was the last of four defendants who pleaded guilty in Wayne County Circuit Court as adults to assaulting motorist Steven Utash, who had accidentally struck a child on April 2.

Judge James Callahan sentenced Cummings to three years probation, the first six months of it to be served in jail, citing in part a lack of a father's presence. Cummings had told the judge his father was not in his life.

"That's what you have needed in your life is a father," Callahan said. "Someone to discipline you, someone to beat the hell out of you when you made a mistake as opposed to allowing you or encouraging you to do it to somebody else."

Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey objected to the sentence, saying Cummings had not earned leniency. Callahan said he could understand, as had once been 19, why some problems might arise for a young man who did not have a father's guidance.

"That is no excuse judge, that is setting a low bar," Lindsey said. "There are plenty of young black males who live in the city of Detroit who are raised by a single mother who do not, I repeat, do not engage in criminal activity."

Cummings' conviction could be expunged if he completes probation without incident.

Utash spent six weeks in the hospital after the beating. The child he hit was treated for a leg injury and released the next day. Police ruled the collision an accident. Prosecutors also had charged a 16-year-old as a juvenile with ethnic intimidation in the attack. Utash is white; the defendants are black. The ethnic intimidation charge was dropped and the teenager pleaded guilty as a juvenile to assault.

Prosecutors said the evidence did not support ethnic intimidation charges against the defendants charged as adults.

Of the other defendants, one was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, a second to five years probation, the first year to be served in jail, and the third to three years probation in a program where his conviction also could be expunged.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Jim Loney)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
whahuh wrote:
Just another black male let off the hook because the color of his skin.

Jul 17, 2014 3:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Abenaki wrote:
Well you can’t blame racist on this one some got over 6 years and others got only probation or 6 months. So being black doesn’t save anyone. I have seen people get off from serious crimes and others get a lot of time for just getting on a computer. Seems like the justice system is up and down on everyone. Some say there are 90% of blacks in Washington DC that are busted for weed. Well maybe that is because there is mostly blacks living in DC. Were I come from there are more than 90% whites being busted for the same thing also because there are more then 90% whites in that state.

Jul 17, 2014 4:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.