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Bail Denied In Hate Crime Attack Broadcast On Facebook

Updated 5:53 P.M. CT

A Cook County judge denied bail Friday for four people charged with hate crimes for an alleged attack on a mentally disabled man that was live-streamed on Facebook.

Brittany Covington, Tanishia Covington, Jordan Hill and Tesfaye Cooper were each charged with a hate crime, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, according to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Other charges included burglary, robbery and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Authorities claim Hill picked up the 18-year-old victim -- who suffers from schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- at a Streamwood McDonalds on Dec. 31 and took him to an apartment on Chicago’s West Side. The victim was then tied up, beaten, stabbed and forced to drink toilet water.

“Where was your sense of decency?” the alleged attackers were asked by Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil during a Friday bond hearing. 

Relatives of Brittany and Tanishia Covington attended the hearing and were in tears.

Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti said Hill and the victim knew each other because they previously attended the same alternative high school.

Once inside the East Garfield Park apartment, a sock was placed in the victim’s mouth, which was then taped shut, Antonietti said.

“Hill used a knife to cut a chunk of the victim’s hair, causing a laceration to the victim’s head,” Antonietti said. “Defendant Hill also stabs the victim in the left forearm. The victim’s clothing is also cut. During the course of the assault, the two female defendants slap the victim in his face and about his body.”

Excerpts of the video show the victim restrained with belts around his hands and neck. On the video, the assailants say "F*** Donald Trump" and "F*** white people." They also force the victim, who is white, to say "F*** Donald Trump.”

At one point in the video, “a male pulls the cord around the victim’s neck and holds him up while the victim is groaning in pain. A male voice is heard saying, ‘I don’t give a f*** if he’s schizophrenic,’ ” Antonietti said.

Chicago police said drug use may have played a role in the beating.

Chicago Police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said on Thursday the video shows two suspects smoking cigars that authorities "presume to be blunts." Duffin said the video also shows the two sisters smoking while the victim is tied up, and at the same time racial slurs and reference "to his mental capacity starts coming out."

Two of the suspects have criminal pasts that include serious charges.

Hill, 18, was arrested as a juvenile in 2015 on charges including armed robbery, unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle and residential burglary. It's unclear if he was convicted.

Police said 24-year-old Tanishia Covington is accused of kicking in the door of a neighbor who complained about noise during the attack. In 2007, she was arrested as a juvenile for felony attempted armed robbery and aggravated battery.

Police said records show the other two suspects — 18-year-old Brittany Covington and 18-year-old Tesfaye Cooper — had past arrests for nonviolent offenses.

According to a public defender, Brittany Covington is attending Truman College. She works at Devon Market as a cashier and is involved in her church. Tanishia Covington recently worked at a Popeye’s Chicken restaurant. She has two young children; a 2-year-old and an 11-month-old, according to the public defender.

Jordan Hill lived with his grandmother before recently moving in with a friend, according to another public defender. He works at a food packing company, played football in high school and went to church with his grandmother in Elgin, his lawyer said.

Cooper lives in Cicero with his mother and six siblings, according to his public defender. One of his brothers is paralyzed and he helps care for him. He is currently a junior at Streamwood High School and works at a warehouse, the lawyer said.

An online fundraising effort to help the victim has brought in more than $51,000 from more than 1,800 donors as of Friday afternoon.

Bartlett Jackson, a regional communications manager with the online fundraising website GoFundMe, confirmed the victim's family is working directly with the company on the campaign.

The GoFundMe campaign is called "Let's show the Chicago victim love."

The Associated Press and NPR contributed to this report.

Susie An is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her at @soosieon.

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