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November 15, 2012

Notable post-Miller resentencing outcome in Florida case

The Sun-Sentinel has this interesting report on a notable juve murder resentencing resulting from the Supreme Court's Miller ruling.  This piece is headlined "Judge reduces life sentence to 40 years in homeless-beating case," and here are excerpts:

A Broward judge on Thursday reduced the life sentence of a teen sent to prison for clubbing to death a sleeping homeless man to 40 years.  Thomas Daugherty was the youngest of three Broward teens to go to prison for Norris Gaynor's death and the only one to get a life sentence.

An appellate court has said that Daugherty, now 23, was entitled to a new sentencing hearing in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says judges must scrutinize whether juvenile offenders are amenable to reform before ruling that they can never go free.

Broward Circuit Judge Cynthia Imperato reduced the sentence she imposed in October 2008 after weighing Daugherty's remorse, commitment to bettering himself behind bars, hours of testimony detailing his broken childhood and the strong words of the dead man’s sister. “Your story is clearly heartbreaking,” Imperato said. “But we have someone who is dead, someone who was just sleeping on a bench, a homeless person who was beaten to death like a dog. I can't get beyond all that.”...

Daugherty ... was 17 when he and two friends, fueled on Xanax, marijuana and vodka, committed a trio of pre-dawn attacks against homeless Fort Lauderdale men in January 2006.  One of the beatings was captured on surveillance tape at Florida Atlantic University's downtown Fort Lauderdale campus.

The graphic footage showed Daugherty repeatedly walloping a diminutive and defenseless man with a baseball bat, and catapulted the case into the national spotlight. The victim seen in the videotape, Jacques Pierre, survived.  Norris Gaynor, 45, did not. His skull was split open as he slept on a park bench.  A third victim also survived.

Daugherty told the judge he abhors the aimless, drugged out person he was back then and while incarcerated has sought “to get as far away from that person that I was.”

“I hate who I was,” Daugherty tearfully said. “I hate everything about that person. I hate that video. I don't remember doing that to Mr. Pierrre, but I hate that person.”

In 2008, a Broward jury convicted Daugherty and Brian Hooks, also of Plantation, of second-degree murder and attempted murder for the unprovoked attacks. 

William "Billy" Ammons, now 25, took a plea deal in exchange for his testimony and is serving a 15-year sentence at a state prison near Jacksonville.  Hooks, now 25, is serving his 30-year sentence at a state prison in Martin County.

Daugherty's sentencing guidelines called for nearly 30 years in prison.  Prosecutors suggested 40.  Broward Circuit Judge Cynthia Imperato imposed life.

Daugherty returned to Imperato's courtroom at 10 a.m. Thursday as a result of a September ruling from the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach. The state appellate court's decision hinged on a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that judges must consider immaturity and failure to appreciate risks and consequences before concluding that a juvenile offender can never go free....

At sentencing, Imperato told Daugherty she believed his remorse was genuine and that she understood that he had "a horrible and unfortunate upbringing" as the product of a broken home, exposed to drug abuse, neglect and abandonment but she still felt his acts showed "a total disregard for human life." The appellate court ruling did not prohibit Imperato from again imposing a life sentence.

In addition to finding notable that the defendant here got his sentenced cut down to 40 years, I also find it interesting that the defendant here still is getting the longest sentence among his his co-conspirators even as the youngest of three Broward teens convicted of his crimes. He also is now getting, only thanks to the SCOTUS Miller ruling, the sentence that had been requested by prosecutors initially.

November 15, 2012 at 06:47 PM | Permalink


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"He also is now getting, only thanks to the SCOTUS Miller ruling, the sentence that had been requested by prosecutors initially."

So what?

Posted by: federalist | Nov 18, 2012 10:54:46 AM

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