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Four suspects in Detroit motorist beating ordered to stand trial

(Reuters) - Four men accused of beating a motorist in a mob attack after the driver accidentally struck a child on a Detroit street were ordered Monday to stand trial on attempted murder charges.

The driver, Steven Utash, 54, remains in intensive care at a Detroit hospital after the mob beat and kicked him on April 2 when he stopped to check on the child, who had darted into the road in front of his vehicle.

Latrez Cummings, 19, Bruce Wimbush Jr., 17, Wonzey Saffold, 30, and James Davis, 24, were charged with assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm in the beating of Utash.

Wimbush, who was charged as an adult, waived his right to hear the evidence against him. Judge Thomas Jackson, sitting in Wayne County District Court, ordered the other defendants also held over for trial after hearing witness testimony and written statements.

Attorneys for Cummings, Saffold and Davis said their statements to police admitted some involvement in the attack, but argued that the charges against them were too severe.

Police have determined that Utash struck David Harris, 10, accidentally. Harris was released from a hospital a day later.

On Monday, bystander Ashley Daniels testified that she saw several people yell at Utash, who was knocked down while he waited for police to arrive.

Daniels said she saw Saffold shout at Utash and pull a handgun from his waistband and wave it at the motorist. Daniels said she retreated to her car, but looked back and saw 15 to 20 people beating and kicking Utash.

Deborah Hughes, a nurse who lives nearby, testified that she went to help Harris, who had visible injuries to his left leg and mouth, and minutes later saw people in the crowd kick Utash about 20 times within just a few seconds.

A 16-year-old was charged as a juvenile with assault with intent to do great bodily harm and ethnic intimidation of Utash, who is white. All five defendants are black.

Prosecutors have not discussed possible motives for the attack, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has said the evidence did not support an ethnic intimidation charge against the four suspects who appeared in court on Monday.

Supporters of Utash have said the man has no insurance and his family needs help to pay growing medical bills. About $181,000 had been raised as of Monday morning through the GoFundMe crowdfunding website.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Victoria Cavaliere and Cynthia Osterman)

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