The first of four Chicago suspects accused of beating and torturing a disabled teenager and broadcasting the attack on Facebook has pleaded guilty, but a judge let her off without prison time, a report says.
Brittany Covington, 19, pleaded guilty to a hate crime in court on Friday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The suspect also “pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and intimidation charges. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped additional charges, including kidnapping,” the Tribune said.
Despite the guilty plea, Cook County Circuit Judge William Hooks released Covington without jail time. Telling Covington, “Do not mess this up,” Judge Hooks imposed 200 hours of community service and banned Covington from using social media and having contact with her co-defendants for four years.
The judge did not assign jail time because, he said, “I’m not sure if I did that you’d be coming out any better.”
Hooks insisted that his sentence would give Covington the chance to put her life on a productive path.
Covington is the first of the four defendants who were arrested early this year for the attack posted to Facebook.
In January, four Chicago teens were arrested after police were alerted to a Facebook live video showing the assailants beating and at one point slashing a victim tied up in a Chicago apartment. During the video of the attack, the suspects are heard saying, “F*** white people,” and “f*** Trump.”
The victim turned out to be a disabled white teen from nearby Rockford, Illinois. A GoFundMe campaign was set up for his benefit days after the reports broke.
Four black residents of Chicago – Jordan Hill, Tesfaye Cooper, and Brittany Covington, all 18 years old; and 24-year-old Tanishia Covington – were charged with battery, kidnapping, and hate crimes in connection with the attack.
Chicago police called the incident “sickening.”
“It’s sickening. It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that. I’ve been a cop for 28 years, and I’ve seen things you shouldn’t see in a lifetime,” police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “It still amazes me how you still see things you just shouldn’t. So I’m not going to say it shocked me, but it was sickening.”
Cases for the other three defendants are pending.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.