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Judge to Utash Defendant: You Need 'Someone to Beat the Hell Out of You'

The prosecutor said Latrez Cummings, the last of four adult defendants sentenced in the mob beating of Steven Utash, has gang ties, lied about his education and didn't deserve leniency.

Latrez Cumming, 19, speaking to WDIV, Channel 4, after posting bond, was sentenced in Wayne County Circuit Court Thursday. (Screenshot: WDIV)
Latrez Cumming, 19, speaking to WDIV, Channel 4, after posting bond, was sentenced in Wayne County Circuit Court Thursday. (Screenshot: WDIV)

A prosecutor “strenuously” and “vehemently” objected to leniency toward 19-year-old Latrez Cummings, the last of five defendants sentenced in the vicious April 2 beating that nearly killed Steven Utash, while the judge overseeing the case said the defendant needs “someone to beat the hell out of you when you made a mistake.”

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge James Callahan on Thursday sentenced Cummings, who earlier pled guilty to assault with intent to great bodily harm, to three years’ probation, with the first six months to be served in jail.

Callahan’s stern words came after Cummings told the judge he never knew his father, the Detroit Free Press reports. “... What you have needed in your life is a father,” the judge said.

Assistant Wayne County Attorney Lisa Lindsey objected to the sentence, arguing that there were other black males in the city who grew up without fathers in their lives, but stayed out of the criminal justice system, The Detroit News reports.

That earned a sharp rebuff from the judge, who said he hadn’t mentioned Cummings’ race in his remarks.

Lindsey also argued that Cummings misled Callahan about his schooling – his sentencing was postponed last week, reportedly so authorities could sort  out the status of his education – and alleged that he’s a foot soldier for a gang.

She said there was “nothing” in the presentencing report that was “favorable to this young man.”

“We’ve all been 19 years of age,” Callahan said, sentencing Cummings under the Holmes Youthful Training Act, which means his record will be wiped clean if he doesn’t reoffend.

He could have faced from five to 23 months of incarceration.

All four of the adults charged in the case pled guilty to the same charges in exchange for dismissal of attempted murder charges in the horrific beating of the 54-year-old Utash, whose family said suffers brain damage and is unable to work or drive. He was beaten by a group of up to 20 men when he stopped to assist the 10-year-old boy he had accidentally struck with his pickup truck.

Wonzy Saffold, 30, and Bruce Wimbush, 18 – were sentenced earlier this month. Saffold was sentenced to from six to 10 years in prison, and Wimbush was sentenced to three years’ probation. His record will be wiped clean if he has no further brushes wth the law.

Prosecutors dropped an ethnic intimidation charge against a 17-year-old juvenile, who pled guilty to an assault charge. He is currently in a residential treatment program and will be back in court Sept. 17.

Dale Behler July 18, 2014 at 07:49 AM
I think the real story here is that the judge went too light in sentencing the defendant because he excused his violent crime on not having a father figure in his life. Another out of touch judge who fails to do his job in handing out justice because of his goody-two-shoes social agenda. Where do we get these weakling judges who ignore the victim's pain and suffering in favor of over emphasis on the criminal's poor upbringing? More violent crime is the unintended consequence of soft love judges like him.
MoJo July 18, 2014 at 11:54 AM
while the judge overseeing the case said the defendant needs “someone to beat the hell out of you when you made a mistake.” Uh.....not sure if the judge is aware, but it's about 99% likely that that's EXACTLY what happened to the defendant his whole life, and that's why he's now the monster he is. Not excusing his behavior in any way, and as far as I'm concerned he can rot in jail for the rest of his life. But until we start addressing the causes of violent crime instead of just punishing after the fact, we'll continue to see things like this happen. I'd be willing to bet Mr. Utash's family would much prefer that this whole thing had been prevented rather than taking satisfaction in any punishment that the perpetrators might be sentenced to.
Dale Behler July 18, 2014 at 08:14 PM
MoJo....I can't dispute what you say. But in a lot of cases, upbringing and social conditions are used as a convenient excuse for violent behavior. Movies, video games and TV programming also promote our culture of violence. That aspect of the problem is ignored. Maybe need to cut foreign aid and apply some of those billions to help our own folks here at home.

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