A Michigan judge sparked controversy when he told a teen he needs a father to “beat the hell” out of him. Although the teen is accused of a heinous crime, witnesses were stunned by the judge’s harsh words.
In April, Latrez Cummings and five others brutally attacked 54-year-old Steve Utash. According to witnesses, Utash was driving through Detroit’s east side when a young boy stepped off the curb in the path of his pickup truck.
Although he attempted to stop his vehicle, it was simply too late. Utash stepped out of the truck to check on the boy’s condition. However, he was ambushed by an angry mob. Witnesses said the driver was kicked and beaten unconscious by “10 to 12” young men.
Authorities eventually identified Wonzey Saffold, age 30, James Davis, age 24, Latrez Cummings, age 19, and Bruce Wimbush Jr., age 17, as the primary suspects. All four men were arrested and charged with assault with intent to murder. An unidentified 16-year-old boy was also charged in the attack. However, he was charged as a juvenile.
Saffold, Davis, Wimbush, and Cummings, eventually pleaded guilty to the attack.
During Cummings’ sentencing, Judge Callahan allowed the teen to make a statement. The defendant explained that he did not have a father figure in his life. The judge suggested that if the teen had a father to “beat the hell” out of him, it may have prevented his criminal behavior.
As reported by MSN, the Judge’s harsh words “preceded a loud, spirited exchange.” Although Callahan admonished Cummings’ behavior, the teen was only sentenced to six months.
Prosecutor Lisa Lindsay argued that the teen’s difficult childhood does not excuse his crime. However, Judge Callahan said Cummings’ age and his background were taken into consideration when he determined the sentence. He further stated that “we’ve all been 19 years of age.”
Although it was not indicated in the charges, it has been suggested that Steve Utash is the victim of a hate crime. Joseph Utash believes his father may have been targeted because he is white:
“… it might be… You know, it’s like you go in Detroit and you’re white, you don’t belong. Seriously. I’ve been pulled over by police before and they’re like ‘Get back across 8 Mile,’ like I’m not supposed to be over there, like I’m not allowed to go in Detroit.”
During Cummings’ sentencing, Judge Callahan underlined his opinion that the teen needs a father to “beat the hell” out of him. However, the judge did not suggest Steve Utash was the victim of a hate crime.
[Image via Detroit News]