Ashford House 5 Leaves Plea Deal on the Table, for Now
Five Indiana men charged with assault in the Ashford House brawl have decided not to take a plea agreement offered by a Cook County judge and will instead move forward with a motion to suppress the vehicle stop where they were arrested.
Five Indiana men charged with several felonies for their involvement in the Ashford House attack case will spend the holidays in jail after declining a plea deal from a Cook County judge on Monday, Dec. 17.
But the offer is still on the table, an attorney for one of the men told Patch after Monday's hearing, and the five want to see if the judge will suppress their vehicle stop—and the evidence gathered from it, as well as the defendants' subsequent arrests—in January.
John Tucker, 26; Cody Sutherlin, 24; Dylan Sutherlin, 20; Alex Stuck, 22; and Jason Sutherlin, 33, have pleaded not guilty to mob action, armed violence, aggravated battery and criminal damage to property. They all have been in custody since the May 19 incident.
Police say the five men—three of whom are brothers—stormed the Ashford House restaurant in Tinley Park with their faces covered and began pummeling a group of diners and random patrons, using extendable batons, table legs, nunchucks and bats. Authorities have said those targeted were affiliated with white supremacist movements, and defendants are said to be members of the Anti-Racist Action (ARA), a network of militant left-wing groups. But attorneys for the men say the five were part of a group of 15 to 20 people planning a peaceful protest of the suspected white supremacists' meeting.
All five appeared in Judge Carmen K. Aguilar's Bridgeview courtroom on Monday in khaki-colored Cook County Department of Corrections garb and didn't speak. A couple of them, however, smiled and nodded toward supporters sitting in the courtroom as they were led back to lock-up after the hearing.
Lawyer Brian Barrido, who represents Dylan Sutherlin, said during an interview that the five defendants carefully considered the deal offered by the judge. He declined to discuss the specifics of the deal, but in previous interviews attorneys said Aguilar's offer was less than the seven-year prison sentence offered by prosecutors, but not by much.
In January, Barrido is set to argue the motion to suppress the stop of the defendants' vehicle, the subsequent arrest and any evidence found in the car on the grounds that the stop was unlawful. Barrido said police only stopped the car on the vague description of a red Dodge Neon, which he noted is a very common vehicle.
"It's a very strong motion," the attorney said. "And case law is in our favor."
Meanwhile, the five "are doing fine," Barrido said. "They're excited about the motion being heard. They're in solidarity with this. … They know we have a long road ahead of us, and they're excited about proceeding."
If Aguilar grants the motion to suppress, statements made by two defendants also will be suppressed, Stuart Smith, attorney for John Tucker, said during an interview after the hearing. Though Smith and Jim Fennerty, attorney for Cody Sutherlin, agree the statements don't really hurt the defendants' case, "nevertheless, all that's gone" if the defense wins the motion, Smith said.
Undoubtedly, there is a lot staked on the motion, Barrido agreed.
And if the motion fails, the five may consider Aguilar's offer again. Barrido will argue the motion on Jan. 4 at 11 a.m. in Aguilar's Bridgeview courtroom.
Want News Headlines and Updates Delivered to Your Inbox? Sign Up for These Patch Newsletters: