Friday, January 05, 2007

No death penalty in homeless attack

Norris Gaynor was dragged out of a sound sleep and beaten to death because he was homeless. He was a 45-year-old military veteran, a basketball player and a painter. His parents described him as easygoing and without direction. They didn't know he was homeless.

"My son might have been a wanderer. He was entitled, if that's what he wanted to do," said his mother, Georgia Gaynor. "But he didn't bother anybody. And to have someone to just jump on him and brutally beat him to death. I can't understand this."

Three teenagers charged with beating a homeless man to death with a baseball bat as he slept on a park bench won't face the death penalty.

William Ammons and Brian Hooks, both 19, would have been eligible for the ultimate penalty, but Thomas Daugherty was only 17 at the time,* so prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty against any of them. "As a matter of proportion, it would have been improper for the death penalty to be sought," said Brian Cavanagh, the assistant state attorney prosecuting the case.

The teens could now face up to life in prison if found guilty of first-degree murder in the Jan. 12, 2006, killing of Norris Gaynor, 45.

The three teens also are charged with attempted murder in two other beatings of homeless men in Fort Lauderdale. One was caught on a surveillance camera and broadcast around the world.

Read the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel article here. And see previous post here.
* The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid the execution of offenders who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed. Read the court decision here.


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