Teen pleads guilty in Detroit mob beating, says he 'got emotional' before punching motorist

Mike Householder / The Associated Press
June 16, 2014 08:33 AM

Defendant Bruce Wimbush, Jr., standing with his defense attorney Randall Upshaw, takes a plea deal before Judge James Callahan at Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit on Monday June 16, 2014. Wimbush has pleaded guilty in the Detroit mob beating of a motorist who accidentally struck a child with his pickup. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, David Coates)

DETROIT - A teenager pleaded guilty Monday and agreed to testify against others in a mob beating of a motorist who accidentally struck a child with his pickup.

Bruce Wimbush acknowledged that he punched Steve Utash once in the jaw during the April 2 attack on the city's east side.

The mob pounced on Utash, a 54-year-old tree after he stopped to help the 10-year-old boy who had stepped in front of his truck. Utash spent days in a coma after the beating.

Wimbush, 18, told Circuit Judge James Callahan that he "got emotional" when he saw the accident.

"All I could see ... (was) my little brother" when Utash's vehicle hit the boy, said Wimbush, who was walking home from high school with a friend at the time.

Wimbush pleaded guilty to assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced July 7.

Under a deal with county prosecutors, he also agreed to testify against others involved in the beating.

Latrez Cummings, 19, James Davis, 24, and Wonzey Saffold, 30, are charged with assault with intent to murder in the attack. On Monday, their pretrial hearings were moved to Thursday.

A 16-year-old boy is also charged with assault and ethnic intimidation in the case. Utash is white and his attackers are black. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for the teen Wednesday in juvenile court.

Callahan said he would release Wimbush on $20,000 bond as long as he wears a tether that tracks his whereabouts.

Assistant prosecutor Lisa Lindsey told Callahan that Wimbush has already been the target of threats in the deal. The judge said he and prosecutors must be informed if it happens again.

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