CHICAGO, IL — The final defendant accused of torturing a mentally challenged Crystal Lake man that was live-streamed on Facebook accepted a plea deal from prosecutors Thursday stemming from the 2017 incident. Tesfaye Cooper, 20, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to a hate crime and aggravated kidnapping, and his sentencing was delayed to allow his attorney time to prepare a case for leniency, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“I do want to apologize for the pain I put y’all through,” the defendant told the family in court Thursday, the Tribune reports.
A statement from the family also was read by Assistant State’s Attorney Risa Lanier during the proceedings, the report stated. In it, the family described how the attack not only had an effect on the victim but other members, as well.
“The lack of compassion and complete disregard for [his] life was incomprehensible,” Lanier read from the statement.
Cooper was one of four people arrested and accused of tying up the then-18-year-old victim, who is white, with duct tape before beating and tormenting him for hours on Jan. 3, 2017, in an apartment on Chicago’s West Side. The other defendants, who are black, included Jordan Hill, of Carpentersville; and sisters Brittany and Tanishia Covington, both of Chicago. All four initially pleaded not guilty in the case.
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The Covingtons accepted separate plea deals, and like Cooper, pleaded guilty to a hate crime and aggravated kidnapping. Brittany was given probation, while Tanishia was sentenced to three years in prison. Brittany, however, was taken into custody in April after allegedly violating her parole by accessing Facebook on her phone.
Last week, Hill pleaded guilty to the same charges. He was sentenced to eight years in prison as part of a deal he had originally rejected in March.
According to authorities, Hill was accused of picking up the victim at a McDonald’s in Streamwood on Dec. 31, 2017, in a stolen van and then spending the next two days driving around Chicago’s West Side. Eventually, Hill and the victim, who knew one another after attending school together in Aurora, ended up at an apartment in the 3300 block of West Lexington Avenue, where the Covingtons lived.
While captive, the victim had his clothes and hair cut and was forced to drink water from a toilet bowl by the defendants. The defendants can be heard shouting, “F— Donald Trump!” and “F— white people!” in the video that captured the brutal incident, which was streamed live on Facebook.
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The victim was able to escape his tormentors when another tenant in the apartment building complained about the noise being made. Chicago police officers responding to the complaint saw the victim walking outside — hurt, confused and dressed in an inside-out tank top worn backwards — and an investigation into the incident was started, leading to the defendants’ arrests.
More via the Chicago Tribune
Tesfaye Cooper (Photo via Cook County Sheriff’s Office)