Death threat made to Facebook Live torture suspects, attorney says

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The judge placed several restrictions on the court appearance for four suspects in the Facebook Live torture case Friday. (Chicago Police Dept. )

The judge placed several restrictions on the court appearance for four suspects in the Facebook Live torture case. They are accused of tying up and torturing a Chicago teen with mental disabilities and streaming it live on social media.

"It is sad and unfortunate that many have commented on these young men and women without knowing all the facts," Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli said.

The suspects - Tesfaye Cooper, Jordan Hill, Tanishia Covington and Brittany Covington - appeared in court Friday to formally hear the grand jury's indictment against them. They are charged in the kidnapping of an 18-year-old suburban boy who has schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder. Some of the alleged hate crime and battery was streamed live on Facebook.

Prosecutors allege the victim was to have a sleepover with Hill on New Year's Eve, but things deteriorated over the next three days until the victim was found injured walking around on Chicago's West Side by a police officer.

"Sensationalized, pervasive media coverage threatens to poison the jury pool for my clients," Campanelli said.

Attorneys for the four requested any courtroom sketches to not show details of the defendants or their attorneys due to a death threat.

"There was a posting that invited a Good Samaritan to publically execute these defendants by law, or if not, by mob," Asst. Public Defender Neil Toppel said.

The grandmother of the Covington sisters was also in court. She has previously said the young women were not raised to act in the manner in which they are accused.
But on Friday, she and their aunt declined comment.

Defense attorneys said the death threat included anyone who supports the defendants. For that reason, defense attorneys also requested to be omitted from any courtroom sketches. The judge granted the special requests just for Friday. The four suspects are due back in court on February 10.

The victim's mother said her son is getting treatment and their family is grateful for the support and encouragement they've received throughout the ordeal.
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