An Illinois judge has denied bail for the four suspects charged in connection with a Facebook video that allegedly showed them torturing an 18-year-old man whom police characterized as having “mental health challenges.”
The suspects’ public defenders were seeking that they be released on a “reasonable bail,” but Cook County Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil denied the request. When announcing her decision, Kuriakos Ciesil stared at the defendants and asked, “Where was the sense of decency that each of you should’ve had when you were allegedly committing this crime?”
The suspects looked back at the judge but did not answer her question.
During the ordeal, 18-year-old suspect Jordan Hill of Carpentersville had contacted the victim’s mother seeking $300 in cash, prosecutors said in court.
Hill and the three other suspects — Tesfaye Cooper, 18, of Chicago, Brittany Covington, 18, of Chicago and Tanishia Covington, 24, of Chicago — were arrested and charged with hate crime, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Hill, Cooper and Covington were additionally charged with residential burglary. Hill also was charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle, according to the Cook County State Attorney’s Office in Illinois.
On Wednesday, the suspects allegedly broadcast a 30-minute Facebook Live video that showed them violently assaulting the victim, who had his mouth taped shut.
At one point, the victim is threatened with a knife and told to curse President-elect Donald Trump.
“Say f— Donald Trump,” someone is heard saying in the video.
“F— Donald Trump,” the victim says.
In another part of the video, someone is heard yelling, “F— white people.” Chicago Police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said Thursday that the “primary reason” the suspects were charged with the hate crime was because of racial slurs and references to the victim’s mental capacity heard in the video.
The suspects admitted in video statements to police to beating and kicking the victim as well as making him drink toilet water, Duffin said.
The victim had been reported missing by his parents Monday after they dropped him off on New Year’s Eve at a McDonald’s in Streamwood, a suburb northwest of Chicago, under the premise that he would be spending the night with Hill, who police said was an acquaintance of the victim’s from school.
After two days of visiting friends, Hill and the victim went to the home of the Covington sisters, where the police said the assault took place. The ordeal seen in the video began after a “play fight” between the victim and Hill escalated, police said.
The victim was able to escape after the sisters retaliated against a neighbor on a lower floor who complained about the noise by kicking in her door. Officers responding to a damaged property call found the victim on the street wearing shorts, flip flops and a tank top that was inside out and backward, despite the frigid temperatures.
In a press conference Thursday evening, the victim’s family said he is doing “as well as he could be at this time.”