Bridget Daughtery Testifies

The second of two Plantation men learned his prison sentence today in the beating death of a sleeping homeless man.
Brian Hooks was sentenced to 30 years behind bars, a day after his co-defendant, Thomas Daugherty, 19, received life behind bars for his role in a trio of Jan. 12, 2006 unprovoked attacks against homeless men, one of which was captured on videotape.
Broward County jurors convicted both men Sept. 19 of second-degree murder and attempted murder for the string of attacks.
Hooks’ attorney and his family made their pleas for a sentence less than life, relying on evidence and testimony that Hooks participated to a lesser degree in the attacks.
During the trial last month, Hooks, 21, was shown on that videotape running in to land one blow with a baseball bat, in contrast to Daugherty who can be seen repeatedly walloping the defenseless man.
The sentence given Daugherty was harsher than Samuel Gaynor anticipated for the man who had clubbed his sleeping son to death on a Fort Lauderdale park bench.
“It touched me when she said ‘life,'” Gaynor said after hearing Broward Circuit Judge Cynthia Imperato mete out the life sentence Thursday. “Such a short word, such a long time.”
The videotaped attack on Jacques Pierre at the Las Olas Boulevard campus of Florida Atlantic University was the first of the three.
Pierre, 60, survived. So did the third victim, Raymond Perez, 52. Norris Gaynor, 45, did not.
Daugherty tearfully apologized to Gaynor’s family, saying he had “failed as a human being.”
“I wasted a human life,” he said, fighting sobs. “I treated him less than a human being. “It’s sick what happened that night. It was demented.”
Norris Gaynor’s mother, Georgia, said Daugherty’s apology felt sincere.
“God bless him and go with him,” she said. “And even though they failed him, he has people that love him.”
And those who failed him, Daugherty’s parents, Thomas and Bridget, admitted it Thursday.
In an effort to persuade the judge to give their son a second chance, they detailed his dysfunctional, neglectful upbringing. He shuttled between his father’s home in Plantation and his mother’s in Tennessee, where she introduced him to crystal methamphetamine when he was 16.
More committed to hard drinking and drugs, Bridget Daugherty abandoned her son at 2, Thomas Daugherty Sr. said, only to reappear throughout his life, campaign for him to live with her and fill his head with “false fantasies of a good life together.”
“He put her on a pedestal to make up for all her shortcomings,” Daugherty Sr. said. “I will never be able to understand what happens to a child abandoned by his mother.”
When Bridget Daugherty took her turn on the witness stand, she admitted she delighted in being the “cool mom” who smoked pot with her son and his friends, bought them alcohol and let girls sleep over.
She admitted to turning her son on to crystal meth, which became “an almost daily thing.” At 4 a.m. one day she found him crawling on the living room floor with a flashlight, hunting for specks of the drug to ingest.
“I know I am the cause of my son’s demise,” Bridget Daugherty said through sobs.
“I threw away my life,” she said, looking at the teen she called Tom Tom. “And I feel like I threw away yours.”
Daugherty’s attorney asked for a 20-year sentence. State sentencing guidelines called for almost 30. Prosecutors suggested 40. The judge chose life.
Later, Samuel Gaynor was asked if he could forgive.
“God is the forgiver,” he said. “We only can try to cover the scratches on our souls.”