The lawyer for a teenager alleged to have been the instigator in the vicious beating of a 54-year-old Clinton Township tree trimmer two weeks ago said his client reacted on the “spur of the moment” and should not be charged with a hate crime.
The 16-year-old, who has not been named, was charged with ethnic intimidation as a minor and assault with intent to do great bodily harm in the April 2 mob beating of Steven Utash, who had stopped to assist a child he struck with his truck on Detroit’s east side.
The teenager appeared in Wayne County Juvenile Court Thursday, where he waived his pretrial hearing, The Detroit News reports. His jury trial is scheduled for June 23 before Judge Jerome Cavanagh.
“The term hate crime is not necessarily, in my mind, what happened in this incident,” the teen’s lawyer, Solomon Radner of Southfield, told The Detroit News after the hearing.
“I think of a hate crime as burning a cross on someone’s lawn, lynching someone because of their color or painting a swastika on a synagogue,” he said.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said earlier that the state has the evidence to convict the youngest of five offenders charged so far in the beating with a hate crime. He reportedly told investigators that he started to attack Utash because he was white and the 10-year-old boy struck by his truck was black.
The four adults charged with assault with intent to commit murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm are scheduled to appear Monday in Wayne County Circuit Court for their preliminary examinations. None of the adults has been charged under Michigan’s ethnic intimidation statute.
In Thursday’s proceeding, Cavanagh denied Radner’s request to lower the teenager’s $400,000 bond, and sided with Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Hervey Jenkins, who said of the crime, “This is about as serious as you can get.”
The prosecutor also cited the teen’s previous record and said he tested positive for marijuana use when he was arrested.
How to Help Steven Utash
Utash sustained severe head trauma in the attack and remains in and out of consciousness at a Detroit hospital, where he is beginning and long and expensive journey to rehabilitation. His family said he has taken a few steps with a walker
An online fundraiser on the Go Fund Me site had raised more than $179,675 in the 14 days since it was established by Utash’s family to offset his medical expenses. He has no medical insurance.
Donations may also be made by mail: S. Utash, P.O. Box 761, Warren, MI 48090-0761.