Daughtery Shows Emotion

A Broward man convicted of beating a homeless man to death with a baseball bat was sentenced to life in prison Thursday, closing a chapter of a high-profile case that drew intense national media attention.
Thomas Daugherty, 19, was the second person to be sentenced in the murder of Norris Gaynor, who was beaten to death while sleeping on a park bench on Jan. 12, 2006.
Daugherty’s accomplice, Brian Hooks, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday afternoon.
Last month, a Broward jury found both men guilty of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder for their roles in two other attacks against homeless men later that morning.
“I never meant for any of this to happen. It wasn’t supposed to happen,” said a teary-eyed Daugherty, who addressed the Gaynor family for the first time. “I wasted a human life. I treated him as less than a human, and I’m sorry.”
The Gaynor family, who sat through hours of graphic testimony during the trial, had few words during sentencing, but they could not contain their anguish.
Sam Gaynor, Norris Gaynor’s father, sobbed several times while reading his prepared statement.
Gaynor’s sister, Simone Manning-Moon, cried in her father’s chest after she finished her brief testimony chronicling her close relationship with her brother.
After the sentencing, several of Daugherty’s family members and Gaynor’s mother, Georgia Gaynor, shared a tear-filled embrace. It was Georgia who did most of the consoling.
“So much has happened. I get no pleasure out of seeing this young man spending the rest of his life in prison,” she said. “It’s sad.”
Dozens of Daugherty’s relatives and friends packed Circuit Judge Cynthia Imperato’s courtroom in hopes of influencing the judge’s decision. It didn’t help.
“I believe you are remorseful now, but that night you participated in horrific and senseless crimes,” Imperato told Daugherty. “You showed total disregard for human life.”
Daugherty’s father, mother and aunt addressed the court and related tragic tales of the teen’s childhood; from his parent’s messy divorce when he was 2 to his addiction to crystal meth, marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs — all supplied by his own mother.
He started using drugs at age 11, family members said.
Clad in a red jumpsuit required of prisoners convicted of a violent crime, Daugherty cried during most of the testimony, occasionally nodding his head to certain stories told from the witness stand.
Daugherty never had a fair shot in life, family members said.
“He’s not a monster. He was a tragedy waiting to happen,” said Shirley Perring, his aunt, who affectionately addressed Daugherty as “LT.” “He’s not a murderer.”
But on Jan. 12, 2006, Daugherty became just that.
According to testimony during trial, Hooks and Daugherty led a group of intoxicated teens to go “beat up some bums” for fun.
They first attacked Jacques Pierre as he sat on a bench at Florida Atlantic University’s downtown Fort Lauderdale campus. The attack was captured by a surveillance camera, which shows Daugherty and Hooks relentlessly attacking Pierre with baseball bats, hitting the homeless man at least seven times on or near the head.
The shocking video footage was released to the media just hours after the attack and was shown around the world.
Pierre, who testified during the trial, suffered skull fractures and deep lacerations.
The teens then moved on to Esplanade Park, where Daugherty found Gaynor, 45, sleeping on a park bench. With his hands elevated over his head, Daugherty brought his wooden bat crashing down onto the face of Gaynor, smashing the man’s skull, prosecutors said.
As Daugherty bashed Gaynor with his bat, another teen, William Ammons, shot the homeless man with about a dozen pellets from his paintball gun.
On Sept. 24, Ammons was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the attacks. He testified against Daugherty and Hooks at the trial.
The teens found a third homeless victim at Church by the Sea. They attacked Raymond Perez as he slept in the church’s courtyard.
Hooks carried a golf club. Daugherty continued to use his bat. And Ammons attacked the man with a plastic sword.
Perez, who also testified during trial, suffered broken bones and deep lacerations.
Defense attorneys argued the boys only intended to beat up their victims, not kill them.