4 suspects to stand trial in beating of Detroit motorist

DETROIT - Four have been ordered to stand trial on charges of assault with intent to murder in the severe beating of a motorist who accidentally struck a 10-year-old Detroit boy with his pickup truck.

Steven Utash, 54, spent days in a coma and remains hospitalized after the April 2 beating in Detroit. He was attacked by a group of people while trying to help the boy he had accidentally hit with his pickup truck. The boy is recovering from a broken leg, reports CBS Detroit.

One of the four suspects waived his right to test the evidence Monday. The others were ordered to trial after their statements to police were introduced as evidence. Several witnesses also testified.

The defendants are 30-year-old Wonzey Saffold, Latrez Cummings, 19, James Davis, 24, and Bruce Edward Wimbush Jr., 17. All four face charges of assault with intent to murder. Wimbush waived the hearing and will apparently be tried separately from Cummings, Saffold and Davis, reports the station.

Davis, Cummings and Saffold allegedly admitted to police that they kicked Utash, according to statements read at the hearin

Steven Utash poses with his family in a family photo. Utash Family Photo/CBS Detroit
g, reports CBS Detroit.

The courtroom was packed for the at-times contentious hearing. Saffold reportedly made an obscene gesture at cameras in the courthouse before the hearing began, reports ABC affiliate WXYZ.

36th District Court Judge Thomas Jackson several times admonished one of the witnesses, Anton Sykes, 30, who repeatedly denied making a statement to police that he saw Davis stomping Utash in a series of heated exchanges with a prosecutor.

Sykes was led away in handcuffs and ordered held on $500,000 to bond to ensure his testimony at trial, reports CBS Detroit.

Reading a statement made to police, a prosecutor said the Cummings said he "maybe" punched Utash and kicked him "like twice in his back and in his butt cheek," reports the station.

Deborah Hughes, a nurse who witnessed the beating and is credited with saving Utash, reportedly testified she head people shouting, "You hit my nephew, or you hit my cousin," and that she heard Cummings yell, ""I'm going to kill him!" Hughes reportedly testified she was there when Utash pulled over after striking the boy with his truck, saying he appeared very upset.

"He said, 'Oh my God, I hit a boy! Is he dead? Is he dead... did I hurt him?'

Hughes said she later heard Utash yell, "No!" and "Help me!" as he was hit and kicked in the head, reports the station.

Another witness, Ashley Daniels, reportedly testified she saw Utash stomped on. Daniels alleged Saffold was "waving a gun around" and pointed the gun toward Utash before joining a group of 15 or 20 who were allegedly beating the man.

Saffold's attorney argued that Saffold didn't intent to murder Utash, because if his client had a gun, he could have killed him but didn't, reports the station.

An attorney for Davis, Jason Malcowicz, also took issue with the charges against his client.

"The statement from my client is that he kicked him once or twice - not enough to rise to the level of assault with intent to murder," Malcowicz said.

The judge disagreed.

"Even one or two may not be enough to kill anyone, but in combination with another person, it can be enough to cause death," Jackson said.

A 16-year-old accused of throwing the first punch in the beating is also charged as a juvenile with assault with intent to do great bodily harm and ethnic intimidation, reports CBS Detroit. His lawyer denies that race motivated the black youth to allegedly attack Utash, who is white.

The teen will face a juvenile trial June 23, reports the station.