July 7, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Brother of motorist beaten in Detroit lashes out at 2 sentenced for attack

Detroit — Two of five men who pleaded guilty last month in a mob attack on suburban motorist Steve Utash were sentenced Monday, one to prison and the other to probation.

Wayne County Circuit Judge James Callahan ordered Wonzey Saffold, 30, to spend 6-10 years in prison. Saffold also received a tongue lashing from the enraged brother of Utash. The victim did not attend the sentencing.

Bruce Wimbush, 18, was sentenced to probation and will have his record eventually expunged if he stays out of trouble.

Callahan said he would require Wimbush to undergo periodic drug testing because of his previous use of marijuana. His first drug test will be Aug. 4.

While Wimbush admitted to hitting Utash, he was not part of the mob who pummeled the motorist on Morang near McKinney, where he hit a 10-year-old boy who darted out into traffic April 2.

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey said Wimbush, who had no prior criminal record, helped authorities identify other attackers.

The April attack put Utash into a 10-day coma and left him with brain damage.

Utash’s brother, Ken Utash, who spoke at Saffold’s sentencing, was visibly upset as he described his brother as “not a big guy ... 155 pounds soaking wet.”

“He took a look around and there were 30 black people around him,” Ken Utash said, gesturing at Saffold.

“A juvenile began swinging at him. ... My brother began praying for his life. People came out of everywhere to kick him and punch him. One person said they pulled up in a car, got out and kicked him in the head.

“What is this, a new version of the knockout game?”

Ken Utash praised Detroiter Deborah Hughes who intervened on his brother’s behalf.

“You should thank her,” Ken Utash said. “Otherwise you guys might be standing here for murder.”


Wimbush and Saffold pleaded guilty June 19 along with co-defendants Latrez Cummings, 19, and James Davis, 24, to beating 54-year-old Utash, a tree trimmer, when he stopped to check on the youngster he struck with his vehicle.

Cummings and Davis will be sentenced Thursday.


The attack, believed to be a hate crime by many, drew national headlines. Utash’s attackers are black. Utash is white.

The fifth defendant in the case, who was 16 at the time of the attack, will have to serve time in a residential correctional program. He could be released from that program as early as September when he is due back in court before Wayne County Juvenile Judge Jerome Cavanagh for a report on his progress.

A Utash family friend said the victim is walking now but not able to drive or work. Utash has since moved to Oakland County with his girlfriend. The friend said Utash has been able to pay his medical bills but has little money left for everyday expenses such as food and housing.

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Wonzey Saffold in court today. / David Coates / Detroit News
Defendant Bruce Wimbush, 18, in court Monday. (David Coates / Detroit News)
Mandi Emerick, daughter of Steven Utash, addresses defendant Wonzey ... (David Coates / The Detroit News)
Ken Utash, brother of Steven Utash, was practically shaking with anger as ... (David Coates / The Detroit News)
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