A Michigan prosecutor voiced her strong disapproval Thursday when a judge gave a lighter sentence to a 19-year-old who severely beat a man who struck a child with his pickup truck.
Latrez Cummings was sentenced to six months in jail as part of a three-year intensive probation sentence, and he could have the felony assault conviction wiped from his record if he meets the conditions of the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.
Cummings was among four adults and one juvenile charged in the April 2 beating of 54-year-old Steven Utash after he injured a 10-year-old boy who stepped off the curb.
The boy was hospitalized but is expected to fully recover, while Utash’s family said he suffered brain damage that limits his ability to work or drive.
Three assailants were sentenced last week, but Judge James Callahan postponed Cummings’ sentence so attorneys could determine whether he had actually enrolled in online classes, as claimed.
The judge found Cummings had not enrolled, and the teen told the court he was unable to do so because classes were full and had instead taken care of his daughter.
Callahan could have sentenced Cummings to up to 23 months in jail, but he cited the teen’s upbringing by a single mother in imposing the lighter sentence.
"That's what you have needed in your life is a father, someone to discipline you, someone to beat the hell out of you when you made a mistake," Callahan said. “As opposed to allowing you, or encouraging you to do it to somebody else.”
Assistant Wayne County prosecutor Lisa Lindsay objected, and the judge reminded her that "we’ve all been 19 years of age at some point in time in our lives.”
“It might be different for a young lady,” the judge said, “but for a young man without the guidance of a father, being 19 years of age, I can understand how some of these problems have existed in the past.”
Lindsay, who is black, rebuked the judge, who is white, telling Callahan he had set a “low bar” in excusing Cummings’ behavior.
“There are plenty of young black males who live in the city of Detroit who are raised by a single mother who do not – I repeat, do not – engage in criminal activity,” Lindsay said.
“There are plenty of young black males who did not have a father who live in the city of Detroit who do not come into court and lie to a judge,” she added. “There are plenty of young black males who live in the city of Detroit who do not behave the way that this man behaves. And the fact that he did not have a father, the fact that he is a young black male does not give him the right to engage in criminal activity.”
Watch the prosecutor's remarks in this video posted online by WJBK-TV: