CHICAGO – The suspects accused of torturing a schizophrenic man and streaming it live on Facebook, appeared at a court hearing today.
Their lawyers say they are now being threatened.
During the indictment today, the judge tightened restrictions on news coverage on this case. Cameras are not allowed in the courtroom and the judge told the sketch artist to not draw the defendants or defense lawyers faces after alleged death threats online.
Jordan Hill, Tesfaye Cooper, Brittany Covington, all 18, and Covington’s 24-year-old sister year Tanishia Covington, are all charged in the kidnap and torture of an 18-year-old white schizophrenic man from Crystal Lake That was streamed live on Facebook.
The victim knew one of the defendants from a former school they attended.
Hill is accused of meeting up with the victim at a Schaumburg McDonalds on New Years Eve, then stealing a van in Streamwood and driving the victim to the West Side apartment of the Covington sisters.
That’s where prosecutors say they gagged and beat the teen, cut his scalp with a knife, made him drink toilet water and say “I love Black people” and “F Trump.”
After today’s court hearing, defense attorneys laid out death threats they say have been made on social media.
“There was a posting that invited a Good Samaritan to publicly execute these defendants or if not by a mob,” said assistant public defender Neil Toppel “And also said anybody that supports them should be executed as well.”
Defense attorneys told the judge they have concerns about a contaminated jury pool because of the sensationalism of this case and a judge agreed.
The defendants are still being held without bond and are facing several charges including aggravated kidnapping, residential burglary, unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and a hate crime. Hill is also charged with robbery and possession of a stolen vehicle.
If convicted of the most serious charges, these four face up to 30 years in prison.
An arraignment is set for February 10th, where defense attorneys say they will file a new motion for bond.