Probation, restitution ordered for teen in hate crime road rage attack
A 17-year-old Hinsdale Central senior has been sentenced to probation for his role in the Sept. 8, 2015, attack on a 53-year-old Sikh man.
The Willowbrook teen pleaded guilty in juvenile court in December to committing a hate crime. On Wednesday, Judge Blanche Hill Fawell sentenced him to two years of probation, 15 days in juvenile detention, 200 hours of community service -- including service at the Sikh Community Center in Wheaton -- and to repay $4,869 to his victim, Inderjit Singh Mukker.
The teen's attorney argued the teen and community would be better served by the teen working to pay off his restitution before attending Southern Illinois University in the fall, but Fawell disagreed.
Mukker was driving to the grocery store about 5:15 p.m. on Sept. 8 when the altercation occurred, authorities said.
While Mukker was waiting to turn left on Cass Avenue from 75th Street, the 17-year-old started yelling racial slurs at him from another car.
Mukker, in his victim impact statement that was read by Assistant State's Attorney Audrey Anderson, said the teen saw his beard and turban and called Mukker a "terrorist," "bin Laden" and other slurs.
The teen cut Mukker off several times, and when Mukker pulled to the side of the road, the teen did, too, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the teen left his car and approached Mukker's vehicle where the two exchanged words. At some point the teen punched Mukker in the face as the man sat in his vehicle, they said. Mukker suffered a fractured cheekbone and cuts to his face as well as swelling and bruising. The teen then fled, authorities said.
Darien police eventually found the teen at his home, and when he was approached he punched an officer in the face, authorities said.
The teen's father read a statement to Fawell in court in which he said his son suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from electroshock therapy he received as a child and receives regular treatment for mental illness.
Given a chance to speak to Mukker in court Wednesday, the teen said he looks forward to "regaining (his) image in the community" but also pinned responsibility for the beating on Mukker.
"The only reason I assaulted you is because I was cut off by you and then I was flipped off by you," he said.
The teen also was ordered to undergo substance abuse counseling and mental health counseling as deemed necessary by the probation department.
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin, in a written statement released after the hearing, condemned hate crimes.
"My office has zero tolerance for crimes based on hatred or prejudices," Berlin wrote. "Not only have the defendant's outrageous actions on Sept. 8, 2015, taken an emotional, physical and even financial toll on (Mukker) that continues to this very day, his actions also have shaken the entire community. Today, the defendant in this case learned that any attack motivated in whole or in part by a preconceived bias against another individual is a serious crime that carries serious consequences."