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Facebook Live Torture Suspects Still In Jail Despite Bail Reductions

By Erica Demarest | May 17, 2017 12:16pm | Updated on May 18, 2017 11:44am
 Jordan Hall, 18; Tesfaye Cooper, 18; Brittany Covington, 28; and Tanishia Covington, 24, have been charged with hate crime, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, robbery, possessing a stolen car and residential burglary.
Jordan Hall, 18; Tesfaye Cooper, 18; Brittany Covington, 28; and Tanishia Covington, 24, have been charged with hate crime, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, robbery, possessing a stolen car and residential burglary.
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Chicago Police Department; Facebook

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Four people accused of torturing a mentally ill man on Facebook Live are still in Cook County Jail despite recent bail reductions, court records show.

Jordan Hill, Tesfaye Cooper, Brittany Covington and Tanishia Covington were denied bail Jan. 6 during an initial bond hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, 2650 S. California Ave.

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But over the last several weeks, court records show, Cook County Judge William H. Hooks has steadily reevaluated bail for each suspect.

Hill, 19, of suburban Carpentersville, had bail set at $900,000. Cooper, 18, of the 2700 block of West Harrison Street, was given a $800,000 bail.

Sisters Brittany and Tanishia Covington, ages 19 and 24, who live together in the 6400 block of North Newgard Avenue, have $500,000 bail and $200,000 bail, respectively.

According to county records, all four suspects were still in Cook County Jail, 2700 S. California Ave., on Wednesday.

The group is charged with 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.

Hill, Cooper and the Covington sisters are accused of live-streaming on Facebook a four-plus-hour attack on an 18-year-old man, who had been friends with one of his tormenters before police said a "playfight" escalated into a racially charged hate crime.

The victim, a white man with schizophrenia and attention-deficit disorder, was repeatedly beaten, forced to drink toilet water and asked by his black attackers to yell, "I love black people," and, "F--- Trump," over the course of several days, prosecutors allege.

The victim's mother repeatedly contacted one accused attacker, trying to find her missing son.

"Where was the sense of decency that each of you should have had?" Cook County Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil asked in court Friday. "Where was the sense of decency when the victim's mother reached out? ... Where was it? I don't see it."

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According to prosecutors, the victim's mother dropped off her son on Dec. 31 at a suburban Streamwood McDonald's so that he could meet Hill, a friend from an alternative high school.

Hill stole a van, prosecutors said, and drove the victim and a third person to buy marijuana in Chicago. Hill then left the victim alone in the van for roughly two hours, according to Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Erin Antonietti, who spoke during a bond hearing Friday.

During that time, Antonietti said, the victim's mother repeatedly called Hill in an effort to learn where her son was. That enraged Hill so much, prosecutors said, that he returned to the van and beat the victim. Hill is accused of stealing the victim's phone and SIM card before taking the man to a third-floor apartment in the 3300 block of West Lexington Street.

There, Hill met up with Cooper and the Covington sisters, prosecutors said.

Hill and Cooper are accused of forcing the victim into a corner and berating the man while Hill was armed with a knife. The duo forced the victim to yell, "I love black people," and "F--- Trump," as he kissed the floor, Antonietti said.

On Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, the victim contacted his mother and asked to spend the night at a friend's house. But all communication stopped by Jan. 2, prosecutors said, and the victim's mother began contacting Hill through Facebook.

On Jan. 3, Brittany Covington began recording the abuse, which she streamed live on Facebook for more than four hours, authorities said. All four suspects are seen clearly in the recordings.

Hill and Cooper rifled through the victim's pockets before forcing him to drink toilet water while punching him in the head and ordering him to say, "F--- Trump," prosecutors said. The Covington sisters yell and mock the victim.

At that point, Antonietti said, the victim was tied up and gagged. A sock was placed in his mouth, which was then taped shut. A male voice is heard shouting, "F--- Donald Trump," and, "F--- white people."

Hill used a knife to cut a chunk of the victim's hair, prosecutors said, leaving a laceration on his head. Hill stabbed the victim in his left forearm, according to Antonietti, while the Covington sisters slapped the man in his face and body.

Among other things, prosecutors said, the four-hour video depicts the victim sitting in a corner with duct tape across his mouth and belts around his hands and neck. The victim's sweatshirt is cut while a female laughs. A female punches the victim, laughing. A man puts his foot on the victim's head.

As the torture continued, prosecutors said, a man can be heard stating, "I don't give a f--- if he's schizophrenic." At one point, the victim screamed, "No!," when a man walks over with a knife and asks, "Should I shank his a--?"

The tormenters also threatened to kill the victim multiple times, Antonietti said.

During the course of the attack, Hill told the victim's mother she could have her son back for $300, according to prosecutors.

Neighbors in a second-floor apartment went upstairs Jan. 3 to complain about the constant banging, yelling, stomping and laughing that emanated from the third-floor apartment as torture took place, Antonietti said.

Later that same day, about 5 p.m., the second-floor neighbors again went upstairs to complain about noise, according to prosecutors.

That's when Hill ran out of the building's front door, threatening to return with a gun, Antonietti said. Cooper and the Covington sisters chased the neighbors back down to the second floor, where Cooper reportedly kicked in their front door. The neighbors ran out their back door, prosecutors said, and called 911.

It was during this commotion that the torture victim was able to escape, Antonietti said.

When police spotted the man, he had cut clothing, visible injuries and was wearing sandals, prosecutors said. He suffered cuts and lacerations to his head, face and body, as well as a stab wound to his left arm. There were also bruises and lacerations on the man's back, Antonietti said.

Police said the victim was so traumatized after the incident that it took him most of an evening to speak to officers about what happened.