Man sentenced to at least 15 years in hammer beating

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published November 14, 2013

UTICA — A man convicted in the beating of another man with a hammer on June 14, 2012, behind a T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant near Hall and Schoenherr roads received a sentence of 15-40 years in prison Nov. 14.

Damien Banks, 28, of Detroit, reappeared before Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Diane Druzinski after she adjourned his initial sentencing date Oct. 22 for the probation department to re-interview him for its sentence report, since he said he did not understand the paperwork the first time.

After a three-week trial, a jury convicted Banks on Sept. 18 of four counts, including assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder, conspiracy to assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. The jury reduced counts one and two from an original charge of assault with intent to commit murder.

The victim was hit multiple times in the head with a hammer and had $3,000 in cash stolen from his person.

Counts one and two carry a six- to 20-year sentence and counts three and four carry a 15- to 40-year sentence. Druzinski ruled that Banks would carry each sentence out concurrently.

Utica police arrested Banks on July 10, 2012, so he received 492 days of credit toward his sentence.

“Mr. Banks was released from prison six months before picking up this charge. Clearly, he was not being a productive member of society,” said Assistant Prosecutor John Gemellaro. “His priors are for drug trafficking, he was engaged in that conduct before this happened, so we can easily assume that from the moment he got out of prison, he resumed his lifestyle of selling drugs.”

Joseph Kosmala, Banks’ defense attorney, said his client has two prior drug charges and a weapons charge, which made him a poor candidate for a shortened sentence, since the government argument is that he did not learn anything in prison.

“Concerning this case, I don’t feel like I was guilty,” Banks said. “I hope the victim is alright in his life or whatever he’s going through.”

Banks’ co-defendant, David Lyons, 46, of Detroit, received the same sentence from Druzinski Nov. 7, with 453 days of credit.