Five Take Plea Deals In Beating Of Detroit Man; Racial Motive Denied


The three remaining suspects charged in connection with the beating of suburban Detroit motorist Steven Utash took plea deals yesterday, the Detroit News reports. Latrez Cummings, 19, James Davis, 24, and Wonzey Saffold, 30, all agreed to plead guilty to assault with attempt to do great bodily harm less than murder, a 10-year felony, in the mob beating of Utash, a 54-year-old landscaper. Saffold’s attorney said he expected a six-year prison term.

Utash was attacked on April 2 when he stopped to help a 10-year-old boy he struck after the child reportedly darted out in front of his truck. The attack, believed by many to be a hate crime, drew national headlines. Utash's attackers are African-American. Utash is white. Saffold attorney Ray Paige said the attack was not racially motivated, saying “if (Utash) had been a black man, they would have done the same thing.” Paige said the plea deal all five defendants took was probably done out of consideration for Utash having to testify in the case and not due to the fact that two teens who also took part in the brutal beating of Utash agreed to testify against the remaining three defendants as part of their plea deals.

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