(Reuters) - A judge on Thursday told a man who pleaded guilty to being part of a mob assault on a motorist in Detroit that he had needed a father "to beat the hell out of you" and then sentenced the defendant to six months in jail.
Latrez Cummings, 19, was the last of four defendants who pleaded guilty in Wayne County Circuit Court as adults to assaulting motorist Steven Utash, who had accidentally struck a child on April 2.
Judge James Callahan sentenced Cummings to three years probation, the first six months of it to be served in jail, citing in part a lack of a father's presence. Cummings had told the judge his father was not in his life.
"That's what you have needed in your life is a father," Callahan said. "Someone to discipline you, someone to beat the hell out of you when you made a mistake as opposed to allowing you or encouraging you to do it to somebody else."
Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey objected to the sentence, saying Cummings had not earned leniency. Callahan said he could understand, as had once been 19, why some problems might arise for a young man who did not have a father's guidance.
"That is no excuse judge, that is setting a low bar," Lindsey said. "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."
Cummings' conviction could be expunged if he completes probation without incident.
Utash spent six weeks in the hospital after the beating. The child he hit was treated for a leg injury and released the next day. Police ruled the collision an accident. Prosecutors also had charged a 16-year-old as a juvenile with ethnic intimidation in the attack. Utash is white; the defendants are black. The ethnic intimidation charge was dropped and the teenager pleaded guilty as a juvenile to assault.
Prosecutors said the evidence did not support ethnic intimidation charges against the defendants charged as adults.
Of the other defendants, one was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, a second to five years probation, the first year to be served in jail, and the third to three years probation in a program where his conviction also could be expunged.
(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Jim Loney)