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crimesider

Suspects in Detroit driver's beating held on $500K bond

Updated: 3:30 p.m. EST, Wed., April 9, 2014

DETROIT - Three people, including a 17-year-old, were ordered held on $500,000 bond Tuesday in the beating of a Detroit motorist who accidentally struck a 10-year-old boy, then stopped to check on him.

Bruce Edward Wimbush Jr., 17, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of assault with intent to murder, and assault with intent to do great bodily harm, after 54-year-old Steven Utash was nearly beaten to death, according to CBS Detroit. A not guilty plea was entered on Wimbush's behalf, according to the station.

He was arrested Saturday along with a 16-year-old boy who is being questioned in the case.

CBS Detroit reports that 30-year-old Wonzey Saffold and 24-year-old James Deontae Davis were arrested Monday for their alleged involvement in the beating, which occurred April 2 after the beating victim, Utash, got out to help the boy he'd hit with his pickup truck.

Both were arraigned Tuesday afternoon on the same charges as Wimbush, and also ordered held on $500,000 bond.

Wimbush's defense lawyer, Randall Upshaw, told CBS Detroit that his client's bond - set by Magistrate Millicent Sherman - was outrageous.

"It's excessive, especially when the young man has no record and he voluntarily surrendered," Upshaw told the station. "At the same time, it's not alleged that he had a weapon or a gun. But understand, we are all remorseful that the victim was hurt."

Upshaw said that his client, who is due back in court for a preliminary exam on April 21, only played a small role in the attack. "It was alleged that he ran," he told CBS Detroit. "It was alleged that by the time the offense got serious, he was no longer there."

Police said that Utash was on his way home from his job as a tree trimmer last Wednesday when he struck the 10-year-old who had stepped into the roadway, according to the station. Utash stopped and got out of his vehicle to check on the child and was severely beaten by a mob of about 10 to 12 people, police said.

A witness told CBS Detroit that one of the attackers said, "You hit my nephew, you're going to die."

Local nurse Deborah Hughes intervened to help Utash, who was punched, kicked and stomped on repeatedly. She told the station that dozens of people stood and watched as the victim was beaten.

Utash remains hospitalized in critical condition. The boy who was hit has been treated for a broken leg.

Investigators would not say if they thought the attack was racially motivated; Utash is white and his attackers were all described as black, the station reports.

Utash does not have medical insurance, and his family has set up an online fundraiser to help pay for medical bills which has already raised over $130,000, according to CBS Detroit.

Police are searching for additional suspects.