$900K bail for man charged in Facebook Live torture case

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Brittany Covington, of Chicago; (clockwise from upper left) Tesfaye Cooper, of Chicago; Jordan Hill, of Carpentersville; and Tanishia Covington, of Chicago. | Chicago Police

A Cook County judge Tuesday set a $900,000 bail for one of the four defendants charged with a hate crime for allegedly torturing a mentally-disabled man and broadcasting the abuse on Facebook.

Judge William Hooks singled out 18-year-old Jordan Hill, keeping his bail the highest among the four people charged in the high-profile case, noting that Hill had arranged in January to meet the victim at a suburban McDonald’s, the start of what would become a four-day ordeal that would capture national attention.

“He took the lead in (getting) the victim to trust him, and that trust is how we got to this point,” said Hooks, referring to prosecutors’ statements that Hill and the victim had been classmates at an alternative school in Aurora.

All four defendants had been ordered held without bond following their arrests, amid furor over the alleged kidnapping and torture that included a condemnation from then-President Barack Obama and outraged comments from conservative pundits.

Tesfaye Cooper, 18, remains in the Cook County Jail on $800,000 bail, and co-defendants Brittany Covington, 18, and her 24-year-old sister Tanishia Covington have not been able to post their $500,000 and $200,000 bail amounts.

The images captured on Facebook –showing the white victim being forced to drink water from a toilet bowl and having his clothing and scalp slashed with a knife as the defendants, all African-American, jeered at their captive, “f–k white people” and “f–k Donald Trump” – were especially sensational as Trump was just weeks away from being sworn in as Obama’s successor.

The victim bolted from the Homan Square apartment where he’d been confined after the four defendants ran to the downstairs apartment to confront a neighbor who had complained about the noise.

A police officer spotted him walking, his clothing askew, torn and bloodied, about a block away from the building.

Public Defender Amy Campanelli complained publicly about the  media attention surrounding the case and the constant replaying of the video. The video did figure in the bail decision for Hill, the judge said, stating that it provided “some evidence the defendant committed the acts” for which he was charged.

“Those moments on Facebook Live in which the defendant was very active participant, to say it was troubling would be an understatement,” Hooks said.

Should Hill manage to post the $90,000 required to secure his bail, he will have to wear an electronic monitoring device and will not be allowed to have access to the Internet, Hooks said.

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