Three men charged in the severe beating by a mob of a motorist who accidentally struck a child in Detroit pleaded guilty to assault charges on Thursday, the last of five defendants to admit taking part in the April attack.
Latrez Cummings, 19, Wonzey Saffold, 30, and James Davis, 24, all pleaded guilty to a charge of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm in Wayne County Circuit Court for the beating of motorist Steven Utash.
The three men had been scheduled to face trial in August on charges of assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, which could have carried a sentence of life in prison.
Utash, a suburban Detroit resident, spent six weeks in the hospital after being beaten unconscious by the mob in an attack that drew national attention. The child he hit was treated for a leg injury and released the next day. Police ruled the collision an accident.
Prosecutors had charged one of the five defendants, a juvenile, with ethnic intimidation in the attack. Utash is white; the defendants are black. Prosecutors said the evidence did not support such charges against the other defendants.
The ethnic intimidation charge was dropped Wednesday in a deal with the 16-year-old, who pleaded guilty in juvenile court to assault and agreed to testify about the attack.
The other defendant, Bruce Edward Wimbush, who was 17 at the time of the attack, pleaded guilty on Monday in adult court to assault and agreed to testify. Under his deal, prosecutors agreed not to object if a judge sentences Wimbush to a youthful offender program that could lead to his case being dismissed.
In court appearances on Thursday, the three remaining defendants admitted striking Utash during the mob attack. The charges they pleaded guilty to call for a maximum of 10 years in prison. "Basically, there was a crowd beating on Steven Utash, I pulled up to the scene, I kicked him a couple of times and then I left," Davis told Judge James Callahan. Cummings said he struck Utash with his fist and Saffold told the court he punched the motorist twice and kicked him once.
Saffold is scheduled to be sentenced on July 5, Wimbush on July 7, and Cummings and Davis on July 10.
(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Scott Malone and Eric Beech)