When hate crime charges were brought against four suspects accused of kidnapping and torturing a schizophrenic 18-year-old man yesterday, it was not immediately clear if the charges stemmed from the victim’s race or from the fact that he was mentally-challenged. The AP reports today that the four suspects were charged with two separate hate crimes, one based on the victim’s race and the other based on his disability.
Lawyers for the four suspects portrayed them as responsible adults and asked a judge to grant them bail so they could return home while they await trial. The Associated Press reports the judge asked, “Where was your sense of decency?” before denying the request.
“I find each of you a danger to yourself and society,” Cook County Circuit Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil said, sounding baffled that the suspects who hold jobs, attend school and, in one case, care for a brother in a wheelchair could be charged with attacking the 18-year-old victim. How, she wondered, could she agree to allow people accused of such “terrible actions” to walk out of jail?
It was also reported yesterday that the suspects had texted the victim’s family during the attack. Today it was revealed that one of the suspects had demanded $300 from the victim’s mother for his return. We also learned that some of the suspects had previously been arrested in connection with serious crimes, though it’s not clear the arrests resulted in any convictions:
Hill, for example, was arrested as a juvenile in 2015 on allegations of armed robbery, possession of a stolen vehicle and residential burglary. Chicago police said they did not know the disposition of those arrests by suburban officers.
Tanishia Covington was arrested in 2007 on attempted armed robbery and aggravated battery charges. Police records do not show any convictions as a juvenile. As an adult, she was arrested on charges of battery and aggravated assault, but those charges were dropped.
Finally there was some detail about how the victim escaped. Apparently a downstairs neighbor heard the fighting and threatened to call the police. Two of the suspects went to the neighbor’s door and broke it down. That apparently was when the victim was able to get away. Reports published yesterday suggested that police had found evidence of a fight at the scene. That may have been a reference to the broken down door. Presumably the neighbor is the one who called the police.