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Last 3 defendants plead guilty in mob attack on driver

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, June 19, 2014, 6:57 p.m.

DETROIT — Three men pleaded guilty on Thursday to assault in a mob attack on a motorist who accidentally struck a boy with his pickup in Detroit, capping a week of plea deals involving all five defendants in a case that raised questions about race and impulsive violence.

Prosecutors dropped attempted murder charges as part of the deals entered in Wayne County court. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison, although the sentences likely will be much lower.

Steve Utash, a 54-year-old tree trimmer from Macomb County, was severely beaten when he quickly got out of his pickup to check on the 10-year-old boy who had darted in front of his vehicle on April 2.

Utash, who is white, spent several days in a coma and six weeks in hospitals before being released in May. His attackers are black. One of them, a 17-year-old, was charged with ethnic intimidation as part of the attack, although that count was dropped.

Latrez Cummings, 19, James Davis, 24, and Wonzey Saffold, 30, told a judge that they intended to hurt Utash.

Neither Utash nor any of his family members attended the court hearing, but Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, said the family was consulted about the plea deals. She called them a “just resolution.”

“Now that all of the defendants have pleaded guilty, there will be no trial, and hopefully this will allow Mr. Utash to continue to focus on his recovery,” Miller said.

The boy who was struck by Utash's pickup wasn't seriously injured.

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