The youngest of five people arrested so far and the only suspect charged with a hate crime in the vicious attack on 54-year-old Steve Utash earlier this month was the first to throw punches and was reportedly the instigator.
Assistant Wayne County Attorney Matthew Penney made the allegations during a court hearing Saturday at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Center in Detroit, where the 16-year-old is being held, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Penney argued that the suspect, who is from Detroit, poses a danger to society.
Utash had stopped to assist a 10-year-old boy he had accidentally struck with his pickup truck after the youth darted into traffic, when the suspect led the “savage beating of a completely innocent man,” Penney said.
Juvenile Court Referee Raeijen Woods noted the severity of the crime and set bail at $400,000 – $100,000 less than Penney had requested. The juvenile’s defense attorney, Sterling Coleman, pointed out that his client does not have a juvenile record and both of his parents are involved in his life.
They attended Saturday’s hearing. His mother said he is an average teenager who is considered a good kid by other parents in his neighborhood. “This is not my child you are describing,” she said.
The suspect is charged with ethnic intimidation by a minor and assault with intent to do great bodily harm. The suspect is being charged as a juvenile and his name has not been released. Four adults have also been charged with one count each of assault with intent to commit murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm.
None of the adults has been charged with a hate crime.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement that her office “can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the crimes of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and ethnic intimidation.”
More people may be charged as the investigation continues, she said.
Utash awoke from his medically induced coma Friday, according to a post from one of his daughter’s on the Go Fund Me online site, where more than $175,000 has been raised to help pay for Utash’s medical bills.
The family has also set up a post office box for donations: S. Utash, P.O. Box 761 Warren MI 48090-0761.Utash’s daughter said Friday that her father, though conscious, was confused and flashed back to the attack, screaming for help and for someone to “please get them off me.”