Judge: $975,000 Bail for Ashford House 5 is 'Proper'
Despite defense attorneys' insistence that five men police say were among 18 who recently unleashed on a group of local diners are "upstanding citizens" with "longstanding ties to their communities," a judge denied their bail reduction motions Wednesday
Defense attorneys painted a volunteer-oriented, sympathetic picture Wednesday of the five Indiana men accused in May of attacking a group of alleged white supremacists who were sitting down to eat in a Tinley Park family restaurant.
Attorney Stuart Smith, who is representing John Tucker, 26, went so far as to say he believed the wrong group was arrested in the case, describing a "verbal argument that escalated," and outside court insisting the Five were acting in self defense. Suspects joining Tucker in front of Associate Judge Carmen K. Aguilar Wednesday were Cody Sutherlin, 23; Dylan Sutherlin, 20; Alex Stuck, 22; and Jason Sutherlin, 33.
Each pleaded not guilty in June to 37 counts related to mob action, armed violence, aggravated battery and criminal damage to property. Police say the men, three of whom are brothers, stormed the Ashford House in Tinley Park on May 19, with their faces covered and began pummeling a group of diners and some random patrons using extendable batons, table legs, nunchucks and bats.
They stood attentively in court with their hands held behind their backs, despite their lack of cuffs. Clad in tan jumpsuits, none of the men showed any visible reaction to their bail reductions being denied.
Smith described Tucker as a high school graduate who started college but left during his sophomore year because of health reasons. He provides food for needy people, Smith said, and has family members who are county commissioners and sheriff's deputies in Indiana. His record doesn't even include a traffic violation, he argued, asking for his client's $175,000 bail to be reduced to zero.
"There's absolutely no reason he should be held in custody or provide any bond since he doesn't pose a risk to the community," Smith said, adding that he would accept a "small bond regulated by electronic monitoring."
All five of the defendants' private attorneys said the group has friends in Cook County that have offered them places to say throughout court appearances, ensuring they wouldn't be a "flight risk."
The Sutherlins' attorneys said the three are responsible for taking care of their father, who had a slipped disk in his spine that caused nerve damage and is now confined to a wheelchair.
"Dylan and his brothers actually provide most of his day-to-day care and since their incarceration, actually don't know how he's being taken care of," said defense attorney Brian Barrido, who is representing Dylan Sutherlin for whom bail was set at $175,000.
Aaron Goldstein, lawyer for Jason Sutherlin, said his client would be able to contribute next to nothing toward his $250,000 bail. He has a 20-month-old son to provide for, Goldstein said, and his felony burglary conviction in Indiana was "some time ago."
Attorney Sara Garber spoke on behalf of Stuck, whose bail stands at $175,000, and described his benevolence in much the same way the other lawyers did, adding that he is "working to promote social justice and equality." Stuck stood before the judge, unable to hide a tattoo across the front of his neck that says "vile" in capital letters.
Assistant State's Attorney Karin Swanson scoffed at some of the claims, apologizing that she didn't pull the defendants' traffic violations for the bond reduction hearing. She said nothing has changed in the status of the case or with the defendants.
She cited the indictment, describing the melee in the restaurant and the notion that the attackers also targeted random diners who were not sharing a table with the white supremacists.
"They smashed dishes and turned over tables in that restaurant," she said, later adding that a GPS device found in the car the Five were stopped in showed a planned route from Bloomington, IN, to the Ashford House. "A surveillance video of the incident shows the terror these defendants brought upon patrons and employees in that restaurant."
Aguilar stressed that she took all factors into consideration before ruling on the matter.
"Considering all that … and the new factors that were brought out … bond is proper in this case," she said.
A group of six of the defendants' supporters—three men and three women—looked deflated after the court appearance. All declined to speak, though when asked his reaction, one shrugged his shoulders and offered the word, "sadness."
The Five are due back in court at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 14.