Ethnic Intimidation Charge Against West Bloomfield Men Dismissed
'Ethical issues' had caused assistant prosecutor to testify as defense witness.
Three West Bloomfield men accused of attacking a black man in a racially motivated beatdown had their felony charges dismissed Thursday.
Fariss Shayota, 21, Naseem Shayota, 29, and Savio Yaldo, 21, all of West Bloomfield, will return to court for a jury trial on misdemeanor assault charges after 48th District Court Judge Marc Barron refused to bind the matter over to Circuit Court.
"I think it was an obvious decision," said Mark Bilkovic, Yaldo's attorney. "I give credit to the judge for putting an end to this runaway train."
Bilkovic said that the judge found the victim, Steve Harris, 25, of Farmington Hills, to be a "not credible witness" in part due to a rarely-seen situation in which the prosecution took the witness stand for the defense on April 20.
Oakland County assistant prosecutor Jeff Hall was removed as prosecutor on the case after reporting to the judge and defense attorneys that he had heard conflicting reports from Harris about what happened the night of the incident.
Harris had testified that the three men beat him up while yelling racially-based insults before Naseem Shayota hit him in the head with a brick. Hall testified that Harris' story had changed between the time in which Hall visited the scene and Harris took the stand.
Harris had also testified to sustaining head and neck injuries which were not indicated on paramedics reports, nor backed up on the witness stand.
The trial is scheduled for July 9 with pretrial scheduled for June 11. Harris could not be reached for comment Thursday morning.