Two of the four people charged with kidnapping and torturing a Crystal Lake teen whose attack was streamed live on Facebook were assigned new lawyers after a judge on Monday allowed two assistant Cook County public defenders to withdraw from the case.
Private attorneys Robert Willis and April Preyor were appointed by Judge William H. Hooks to represent Tesfaye Cooper, 18, and Brittany Covington, 19.
Last month, Hooks ordered assistant public defenders to review whether it was a conflict of interest for them to represent all four. For example, in some cases with multiple defendants, one or more might agree to testify against his or her co-defendants in exchange for prosecutors amending charges.
Charged along with Cooper and Covington are Jordan Hill, 18, and Brittany Covington's sister Tanishia Covington, 24. They are accused of aggravated kidnapping, unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and a hate crime in the attack of the 18-year-old victim who was reportedly a friend of Hill.
The defendants, all of Chicago, have pleaded not guilty and have been held without bail since their arrest in early January.
Prosecutors say Hill, Cooper and the Covington sisters bound and gagged the victim, then slapped, punched, taunted and threatened to kill him during the attack, which unfolded between Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. They say the defendants cut the young man's scalp, ordered him to drink toilet water and forced him to utter racial epithets.
Hill, Cooper and Brittany Covington will appear in court again on Friday, March 17. Tanishia Covington next appears in court on April 10.
If convicted of the most serious charges, each defendant faces up to 30 years in prison.