BRIDGEVIEW (STMW) — Five Indiana men accused of attacking an alleged white supremacist group at a Tinley Park restaurant in May pleaded guilty and were sentenced Friday.
The five men wanted to put the case behind them, one of their attorneys said Friday morning.
Alex Stuck, 22, John Tucker, 26, and brothers Jason Sutherlin, 33, Cody Sutherlin, 24, and Dylan Sutherlin, 20, all faced 37 counts, including armed violence, mob action and aggravated battery, for the May 19 attack at The Ashford House Restaurant at 7959 W. 159th St. in Tinley Park.
A ruling was expected Friday on whether evidence obtained during a traffic stop after the incident could be presented at the men’s trial. Instead, after their attorneys gathered with the judge at the Cook County courthouse in Bridgeview, attorney James Fennerty, who represents Cody Sutherlin, said the men decided to accept a plea deal.
“They want to resolve it today. They don’t want this to go on any more,” Fennerty said.
After a recess, the men were given sentences ranging from 3 and a 1/2 to six years.
Jason Sutherlin was sentenced to six years, Cody and Dylan Sutherlin to five years each, and Tucker and Stuck to 3 1/2 years each. They will be eligible for early release after half their time is served, and the 233 days for which they already have been imprisoned will count toward their time.
The men were stoic, shedding no tears, as their sentences were announced. About 30 supporters were in the courtroom, and one man wept after the sentences were read.
Prosecutors planned to push for the maximum seven-year sentence for all five men if they went to trial, according to one attorney.
The men’s attorneys had filed a motion to suppress evidence — baseball bats and batons — recovered during the traffic stop. But prosecutors have said three of the men also left DNA evidence at the scene.
Attorneys wanted the men to go to trial.
“Hey, I’m willing to go to court,” Fennerty said. “The clients make the decision. I don’t make the decision. I could go to court and have fun, but if we lose, I don’t go to jail. They could face more time (if found guilty in a trial). If we went to a trial, the plea offer would be off the table.”
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.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)