MIAMI - A man was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison for his involvement in the fatal beating of a homeless man, one day after the other man accused in the crime received a life sentence.
Brian Hooks, 21, will serve 30 years in Florida state prison for the killing of Norris Gaynor, a homeless man who was beaten to death as he slept on a Fort Lauderdale park bench.
Hooks and 19-year-old Thomas Daugherty were convicted in September of second-degree murder for the crime. The pair also were convicted on two counts of attempted murder for beating and injuring two other homeless men on that January 2006 night, when they were both teenagers.
During his sentencing hearing Friday, Hooks took the stand.
"I never acted out of malice or hatred. I just didn't think," Hooks said.
The first words heard from Hooks in a courtroom included an apology to Gaynor's parents.
"I'm sorry for all the pain and hurt this caused everyone involved with this tragic incident, and I ask that you can forgive my actions," Hooks said.
Hooks' parents, sister, grandmother and a former coach described him as a good kid and a role model on the field, a teen who liked to write poetry with his grandmother.
"My parents are constantly upset, and my dad sleeps in Brian's room every night," said Hooks' sister, Kelly Hooks. "I just wish you could see Brian for the great person he is and not for the night he made a mistake."
"He made a terrible decision," said Brenda Hooks, Brian's mother. "He knows he did, and that's devastating to all of us."
Daugherty was sentenced Thursday to life in prison, despite his defense lawyers' request for a sentence of only 20 years. The same judge on Friday said Hooks received a lighter sentence than Daugherty because he played a "lesser role" in Gaynor's death.
"I do believe that your involvement is much different than Mr. Daugherty's. I don't think there's ever any testimony that you were the ringleader in this case," said Judge Cynthia Imperato.
With good behavior and time served, Hooks could be released from prison when he is in his 40s.
Gaynor's mother, Georgia Gaynor, told Local 10 as she was leaving court that, "Justice was served."