Ashford House 5 'Disappointed' by Plea Offer: Lawyers
The five Indiana men accused of assault after an attack on an alleged white supremacist meeting at a Tinley Park restaurant this summer want time to consider a deal offered by a Cook County judge Friday.
The five Indiana men on trial for their involvement in the Ashford House attack case need time to consider a recommended sentence from a Cook County judge offering a plea deal, attorneys said after a hearing Friday, Dec. 7.
John Tucker, 26; Cody Sutherlin, 24; Dylan Sutherlin, 20; Alex Stuck, 22; and Jason Sutherlin, 33, have been in custody since May. They are charged with mob action, armed violence, aggravated battery and criminal damage to property. They have all been in custody since the May 19 incident.
Police say the five men—three of whom are brothers—stormed the Ashford House restaurant in Tinley Park with their faces covered and began pummeling a group of diners and random patrons, using extendable batons, table legs, nunchucks and bats. Authorities have said those targeted were affiliated with white supremacist movements, and defendants are said to be members of the Anti-Racist Action (ARA), a network of militant left-wing groups. But attorneys for the men say the five were part of a group of 15 to 20 people planning a peaceful protest of the suspected white supremacists' meeting.
Defense lawyers were hopeful Judge Carmen K. Aguilar would have a more reasonable sentence recommendation than offered by the prosecution. Prosecutors had a seven-year prison sentence on the table that attorneys told Patch was "ridiculous" in previous interviews. Also, where the state's offer was seven years for all five men, Aguilar gave different numbers for each case, said attorney Brian Barrido, who represents Dylan Sutherlin.
"They're disappointed," Barrido said of the defendants' reactions. "They thought something was going to happen today."
Should the men decide to plead guilty, they would be charged with three counts each of armed violence, a felony that could net them two to seven years in prison with a chance for probation.
Aguilar's recommendation wasn't significantly less than the state's offer of seven years, said James R. Fennerty, Cody Sutherlin's attorney. Fennerty declined to share specific's concerning Agular's recommendation.
"We'll see what happens. But I kinda doubt [Cody Sutherlin will take the deal]," he said.
Fennerty added that Cody Sutherlin was shocked at the offer, as the attorney was himself.
"To be honest, I thought Cody was a good candidate for probation," Fennerty said. "He has no [criminal] history except a DUI four years ago."
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Legal System Not Treating Defendants Fairly
The attorney added that Cody Sutherlin successfully completed court supervision in that case.
Stuart Smith, attorney for John Tucker, said his client is thinking over the deal.
"My reaction to them bringing this case is that they charged the wrong people and should have arrested the Nazis," Smith said.
Smith has said in previous interviews that the orders to prosecute the case so harshly came from orders from officials higher up than the prosecutors on the case.
What Happens Next
The men will decide individually whether to take their pleas, and Aguilar indicated during the hearing Friday that she will give the five as much time as they need to consider the deal.
The men return to court Monday, Dec. 17.
If they decide not to plead, attorneys will move forward with a motion to quash the stop of the defendants' vehicle after the May 19 and the subsequent arrest, explained attorney Barrido. Barrido is scheduled to argue that motion on Jan. 4.
"I'll be taking the lead on the motion, arguing that the traffic stop was improper and how they got evidence from the car was improper," Barrido said.
Ultimately though, Barrido said, the whole incident was "intended to be a protest against a Nazi gathering that got out of hand."
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