COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — The four people charged with torturing a mentally ill man on Facebook Live pleaded not guilty Thursday during a brief arraignment at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
Jordan Hill, 18; Tesfaye Cooper, 18; and sister Brittany and Tanishia Covington, 18 and 24 respectively, entered the pleas before Cook County Judge William H. Hooks, who will serve as trial judge moving forward.
The foursome were criminally indicted last month on allegations they tortured an 18-year-old white man in a West Side apartment by beating the man, forcing him to drink toilet water and insisting he yell, "I love black people," and, "F--- Trump" as he kissed the floor. Much of the abuse was live-streamed on Facebook.
Hill, Cooper and the Covington sisters are charged with a hate crime, aggravated kidnapping for ransom, aggravated armed kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and residential burglary. Hill faces additional charges of robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
Judge Peggy Chiampas last month said she will not allow cameras at any of the group's upcoming hearings.
Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli previously said she's worried "sensationalized, pervasive" media coverage of the case will "poison the jury pool" and make a fair trial impossible for her clients.
"It is sad and unfortunate that many have commented on these young men and women without knowing all the facts," Campanelli said at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, 2600 S. California Ave. "Sensationalized, pervasive media coverage threatens to poison the jury pool for my clients."