Ashford 5 face Dec. 17 plea-bargain deadline
BY STEVE METSCH Sun-Times Media December 7, 2012 5:00PM
Updated: January 9, 2013 6:10AM
Five Indiana men accused of attacking an alleged white supremacist group at a Tinley Park restaurant in May have until Dec. 17 to accept sentences that are less than the maximum in exchange for guilty pleas, attorneys for three of the men said Friday.
The men otherwise would face trial, and prosecutors are pushing for the maximum seven-year sentence for all five men, according to one attorney.
None of the attorneys would reveal how many years was offered by the judge.
Alex Stuck, 22, John Tucker, 26, and brothers Jason Sutherlin, 33, Cody Sutherlin, 23, and Dylan Sutherlin, 20, all face 37 counts, including armed violence, mob action and aggravated battery, in a May 19 attack at The Ashford House Restaurant, 7959 W. 159th St.
Attorneys for the men met for a half-hour Friday with Cook County Circuit Court Judge Carmen Aguilar prior to a hearing at the Bridgeview courthouse. Aguilar told the attorneys what the sentences would be for each man if they plead guilty.
Attorney James Fennerty, who represents Cody Sutherlin, said the judge’s offer “wasn’t much below seven years,” which is the maximum possible sentence.
“I’m shocked. I thought Cody was a good candidate for probation,” Fennerty said.
When asked if his client will accept the offer, Fennerty said, “I kind of doubt it.”
Attorney Brian Barrido, who represents Dylan Sutherlin, said the number of years differs for each defendant. He did not divulge the proposed sentences but said the men were taking an all-for-one approach in determining whether to plea bargain.
“Right now, they’re all going forward together, all five,” Barrido said.
“I don’t think my client will accept the offer,” Barrido said.
Tucker’s attorney, Stuart Smith, said “he’s thinking” when asked if his client will accept the offer.
All the attorneys met with their clients at the courthouse after meeting with the judge. The five men did not appear in court Friday.
Aguilar on Friday granted Smith’s request that he be allowed to bring a personal computer into the jail so Tucker could see the surveillance recording from the restaurant on the day of the fight.
If any of the five men do not decide to plead guilty Dec. 17, their attorneys will return Jan. 4 regarding a motion to suppress evidence — baseball bats and batons — recovered during a traffic stop after the incident. If one or more accepts the plea baragain, they would not be in court on Jan. 4, Smith said.
Prosecutors have said three of the men also left DNA evidence at the scene.
Police have called the five “anti-racists,” saying they wielded bats and wore masks when they targeted the alleged white supremacist group, the Illinois European Heritage Association.
Prosecutors say that with the help of about 12 other people, the men smashed dishes and overturned tables, doing about $15,000 worth of damage to the restaurant.