Suspects in Facebook Live Torture Plead Not Guilty

CHICAGO (CN) – The four black people accused of torturing a white mentally disabled man in Chicago on a Facebook Live video last month pleaded not guilty Friday to hate crime charges.

After allegedly kidnapping the 18-year-old schizophrenic man, the group forced him to drink toilet water and cut his scalp with a knife, yelling “f– white people” and “f–  Trump” in the background.

Authorities claim one of those charged, Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville, Ill., knows the victim from the alternative high school they attend in Aurora.

Hill allegedly kidnapped the man in a stolen van and demanded that his mother pay $300 in ransom for his return after she sent Hill Facebook messages asking her son to come home to Streamwood, Ill.

Hill was later joined by Chicago residents Tesfaye Cooper, 18, Brittany Covington, 18, and Tanisha Covington, 24, in the Covington sisters’ West Side apartment, where authorities say they taped the victim’s mouth and hands before torturing him.

The victim eventually escaped and was found by passing patrol officers a block away.

The four suspects were ordered held without bail in January. At the hearing, Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil reportedly said, “I’m looking at each of you and wondering where was the sense of decency that each of you should have had? I don’t see it.”

Cook County public defender Amy Campanelli said last month that the extensive media coverage of the incident was poisoning the jury pool for her clients and that “it is sad and unfortunate that many have commented on these young men and women without knowing all the facts.”

Along with a hate crime charge, all four were charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.