Detroit, RosevilleJuly 17, 2014
Final Utash defendant receives six months in jail, probation
By Kevin Bunch
C & G Staff Writer
Latrez Cummings, the final defendant who was awaiting sentencing in the mob beating of Steven Utash last April, received six months in the Wayne County Jail and three years of probation under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice July 17.
Cummings, 19, is eligible for work release if he is offered a job while in jail, and Wayne County Circuit Court Judge James Callahan said that if Cummings commits another crime while on probation, he would be facing the strictest sentencing. If Cummings goes the three years on probation without getting into trouble, his record will be expunged of the charge of “assault with intent to do great bodily harm” to which he had pleaded guilty.
Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey disagreed with revised sentencing guidelines that Callahan put forth, as well as the sentence itself, though whether or not the Prosecutor’s Office planned to appeal was not made clear as of press time.
Lindsey said the revised guidelines did not apply here, but Callahan told her that they are welcome to appeal if they disagree.
“He’s not getting an education, he’s unemployed, his mother says he can’t do strenuous work because of a back injury, but it didn’t stop him from beating Mr. Utash,” Lindsey said. “Nothing in his report indicates he should get leniency.”
Callahan delayed sentencing from July 10 because he wanted to find out if Cummings should have been in school when the beating occurred, particularly after Cummings indicated he was going for his high school diploma at a school that allowed students to work remotely with a laptop computer. The record indicated he had been out of school for some time, however.
“They indicate you haven’t been in school long before Dec. 2013 and have no credits in not only 2013, but also 2014,” Callahan said.
Cummings said he had been in school in the summer but dropped because of computer problems. He said he was going to enroll this summer but was incarcerated. Lindsey disagreed with that story.
“Records indicated he was dropped because he wasn’t doing the work,” Lindsey said. “At his bond hearing, he said he was going to re-enroll, but he didn’t.”
When pressed by Callahan on how he has been filling his time without going to school or working, Cummings said he had been helping his mother out and helping take care of his daughter.
Lindsey said Cummings also has a history with the Crips gang and was ranked as a foot soldier, though Cummings’ attorney, Robert Slameka, said that was six years ago and that his record had been expunged under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act since his client had no criminal involvement since then.
Callahan said that what Cummings needed in his life was a father — someone to discipline him and “beat the hell out of you” when Cummings messed up. This prompted a passionate argument from Lindsey, who said Cummings’ parental involvement should not be a factor in sentencing.
“There are plenty of young black males raised in Detroit by single moms who do not commit crimes,” she said. “The fact that he does not have a father does not give him the right to commit crimes.”
In an unrelated development, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is appealing the sentencing of James Davis, convicted for his involvement in the assault, whom the office said Callahan sentenced below state guidelines. Davis was sentenced to 12 months in the Wayne County Jail and five years on probation with eligibility for work release.