Police arrested a third person in connection with last week’s beatings of homeless men in Fort Lauderdale, a city official said Monday night.
“There was another arrest made in the case,” said city spokesman David Hébert. He had no other information about the person’s identity.
Earlier Monday, 17-year-old Thomas Daugherty made his first appearance at the Broward County Courthouse.
The teenager with dark, bushy hair and a soft, childlike face cried while looking over his shoulder toward his mother, who sat alone in back of the courtroom. He would not be going home with .
Daugherty and friend Brian Hooks, 18, face allegations of murder and aggravated battery after a predawn beating spree Thursday in Fort Lauderdale that left one homeless man dead and two hospitalized.
A county judge refused to release Daugherty to home detention on Monday and ordered that he remain in juvenile detention for 21 days. Hooks’ hearing was rescheduled for today after his attorney, Jeremy Kroll, failed to appear in court. Hooks is being held in the Broward County Jail.
Judge Steven DeLuca also signed an order for a psychological evaluation of Daugherty, whom friends call Tommy. Daugherty is being treated as a juvenile, and prosecutors have not yet decided whether he will be charged as an adult.
The sight of saddened, shackled Daugherty clashed with images caught on a Las Olas Boulevard surveillance tape of an aggressive youth beating a defenseless homeless man with a baseball bat last week.
“He’s totally overwhelmed, scared, confused,” said Daugherty’s attorney Bob Nichols, who is handling the case with law partner Jerry Williams. “He doesn’t act like a thug. He’s just a very nice, average, middle-class teenager.”
Daugherty, who alternated between his mother’s home in Tennessee and his father’s home in the Plantation Isles neighborhood, recently dropped out of high school and had been enrolled in a local vocational school, Nichols said.
Students who attended South Plantation High with Daugherty until this past winter vacation when he returned to Tennessee described him as a “good kid,” a “sweet kid.”
“Tommy has defended people,” Emily Becks, 15, said Monday while hanging out by the lake at Plantation Heritage Park near the suspects’ homes.
She said she once saw Daugherty stick up for another student who was being verbally bullied.
Jaclyn Mount, 16, has played pool with Daugherty in his garage.
“They’re not bad kids,” she said of Daugherty and Hooks. “If I didn’t see the videotape I wouldn’t have believed it.”
Holly Keegan, a 2004 graduate of South Plantation High, was moved to tears when she saw the videotape.
“I thought it was so disturbing that you could do that for the hell of it,” said the 20-year-old student of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, who once had a geometry class with Hooks. “He didn’t seem like someone who would go beat bums up for the hell of it.”
Keegan said she remembers Hooks as a guy who partied and skateboarded, drove a black truck and had a lot of friends.
“Even though he can be annoying and stupid,” Keegan said, “he really is a nice kid.”
Shortly after the attacks that occurred within three hours and four miles of one another, the two teens left the state. Within 48 hours, two witnesses signed statements describing the fatal assault of Norris Gaynor, 45. Daugherty and Hooks surrendered to police Sunday.
The first victim was Jacques Pierre, 58, beaten at 1:20 a.m. as he slept on the downtown Fort Lauderdale campus of Florida Atlantic University and Broward Community College. That attack was caught on tape and led to nationwide telecasts, prompting a surge of tips to police from students, parents and neighbors who said they knew the teens.
Gaynor, the second victim, was attacked about an hour later as he slept on a park bench across the street from the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. The third report came in just after 4 a.m., when an injured Raymond Perez, 49, crawled from the garden at Church by the Sea and flagged down a crew of firefighters.
Daugherty’s attorney, Nichols, said he spent an extensive amount of time speaking with Daugherty before his surrender. He said he came away with the impression of a respectful, well-spoken teenager who has never been in trouble before.
“He had a clean record at all of the schools he’s been at,” Nichols said. “He hasn’t been a disciplinary problem. He’s never been in front of a juvenile judge. He’s never had a criminal accusation. He’s squeaky clean.”
Daugherty watched as his mother, Bridget, left the courtroom Monday. She gestured toward her teary-eyed son and whispered, “I love you.”
Staff Writers Susannah Bryan and Lisa Huriash contributed to this report.
All of this stuff took place a few blocks from where I was living 2 months ago, and where my brother was living homeless, up to about 4 months ago. Premeditated Murder? I think trying them as adults is just fine, thanks. I see a lot of red when I think of someone preying on the mentally ill or just plain down on their luck. However, I see what happened as inevitable… the homeless population in Fort Lauderdale is *everywhere*. When I lived there, I was solicited for money on an average of every three blocks, and the sickly, drunken begging went from polite to too-close-for-comfort a few times.