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Suspects in beating of Detroit driver may face hate crime charges

Four people, two of them teenagers, were in custody Tuesday in connection with the beating of a driver who struck a young boy with his truck in Detroit.

By Frances Burns

DETROIT, April 8 (UPI) -- Suspects accused of beating of a driver so badly he remains in a coma could be charged with a hate crime, Detroit Police Chief James Craig says.

Craig said his department and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy are considering broader charges.

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“Both our strategy and the prosecutor’s strategy is widening, and those factors are being looked into very closely. I can’t reveal some things about our investigation, but that is definitely something we’re considering.”

Steven Utash, 54, a tree-trimmer from suburban Clinton Township, was attacked by a mob of 10 to 12 men after he struck a 10-year-old boy with his pickup truck last Wednesday, breaking his leg, police said. Investigators said the boy walked in front of the truck and that Utash, a white man in a largely black neighborhood, stopped and got out of his truck to help him.

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Four people had been charged or detained Tuesday, including a 16-year-old who is being treated as a juvenile. Bail was set at $500,000 for Bruce Edward Wimbush Jr., 17, who was arraigned Tuesday morning.

Wimbush's lawyer, Randall Upshaw, said his client came in to talk to police and played, at most, a minor role in the attack. Upshaw said the bail is much too high.

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"They did not have to go out and search for him. They mentioned his name, he and his family went there," Upshaw said. "They asked him to speak. He spoke. He told them whatever he knew. He had the right to remain silent, but no he wanted to speak and tell the offices what happened. He showed good faith."

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James Deontae Davis, 24, and Wonzey Saffold, 30, were also expected to be arraigned Tuesday on charges that include assault with intent to murder.

Utash remained hospitalized Tuesday in a medically induced coma.

[Detroit News] [Detroit Free Press]

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