MONROE COUNTY (WXYZ) — "He graduates in four days and he has to do it with missing teeth and a broken jaw," Adrianna Howerton-Lee said about her 18-year-old cousin who was assaulted by a 42-year-old man at Sterling State Park near the city of Monroe.
Investigators with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office believe the attack was racially-motivated.
Lee James Mouat, who is white, was arraigned Tuesday in Monroe County Court on charges of Assault with Intend to do Great Bodily Harm, Felonious Assault, and Ethnic Intimidation. He pleaded not guilty and was granted $100,000 bond. He's next due in court June 16.
Now, just days away from his high school graduation, Devin Freelon, who is black, has injuries that include a broken jaw and three missing teeth, according to his family who said Devin was struck in the face with a bike chain and lock and then kicked in the head after he hit the ground.
Investigators said Mouat hurled racial slurs at the victim and may have been upset over some music when he retrieved some sort of bike chain with a lock on it from a vehicle and assaulted the teen.
Devin's family attended a protest Monday afternoon in downtown Monroe that was organized by one of his teachers at Orchard Center High School.
And with the killings of unarmed black men, including George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, gripping the country, Devin's family said, despite the seriousness of his injuries, they're thankful he's alive.
"What if he did have a gun? My brother wouldn't be here right now," said Alisia Freelon, one of Devin's sisters who attended Monday's protest.
The suspect's mother told 7 Action News Monday afternoon, "My son is not racist."
Dollie Mouat said she raised her children in Detroit and they have people of different races in their family.
"I'm worried he's going to get hurt in jail," she said.
Don Ross, Lee Mouat's older brother, said he's embarrassed and will not even try to explain what his brother did.
Ross, who was not at the park, said his brother was "way beyond drunk."
Ross also said he wants the victim's family to know that what his brother did was "blatantly ignorant."
While he said his brother is not racist, Ross said his brother throws around racially-charged words and he doesn't realize that people are not going to accept him talking like he did growing up in their old neighborhood.
Ross said he wants to give his brother a lecture, but that he also deserves to be punished for what he did to the teen.
A GoFundMe that has been set up to help Devin Freelon's family with his medical expenses and dental work has raised over $13,000.