MIAMI - One of two men convicted in connection with a homeless man's fatal beating was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday.
Last month, 19-year-old Thomas Daugherty and 21-year-old Brian Hooks were convicted of second-degree murder for beating to death Norris Gaynor in Fort Lauderdale in 2006. The pair also was convicted of two counts of attempted murder in connection with the beatings of two other homeless men.
During his sentencing hearing Thursday, Daugherty repeated the same sentence 17 times during his 5½ minutes on the stand.
"It was an accident, and I'm sorry," Daugherty said.
Daugherty apologized for taking Gaynor's life.
"I treated him less than human. I treated him wrongly, and I'm sorry, but I didn't mean for that to happen," Daugherty said.
Surveillance video showed two teenagers beating up one of the two men who survived with a baseball bat on the same night Gaynor was beaten to death.
"It was sick what happened that night. It was demented. It was wrong," Daugherty said.
Daugherty's defense team had asked for a sentence of only 20 years for Daugherty. Before Daugherty's sentence was read, his family took the stand to paint the picture of a troubled kid who dropped out of school after the eighth grade, often moving from the home of his mother, who dabbled in drugs, to the home of his father, with whom he often argued.
"I am the cause of my son's demise," said Daugherty's mother, Bridget Daugherty. "I should be sitting in that chair, not Thomas. I neglected him. I abused him."
Those excuses did not appear to sway the judge.
"By your own words, you treated them like less than human, and it was demented and wrong what you did," said Judge Cynthia Imperato. "Based on that, I sentence you to life in prison."
"I get no pleasure out of seeing this young man spending the rest of his life in prison," said Georgia Gaynor, the mother of victim Norris Gaynor. "I'm not jumping up, kicking my heels behind that."
Hooks will be sentenced Friday.
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