October 27, 2008, - 11:25 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Remember the Supreme Court decision striking down the death penalty for juveniles, no matter how heinous their crimes? Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the decision that said society considers juvenile criminals “less culpable than the average criminal.”
While teens in America continue to commit ever more brutal and disgusting attacks on innocent people, they don’t get the punishment to equal the crimes they commit.
The latest example of someone who is NOT “less culpable than the average criminal” but got a “less culpable” punishment, is Thomas Daugherty, now 19.
When he was 17, he and then 19-year-old Brian Hooks and another 19-year-old, trolled the streets for helpless, homeless people to brutally attack. They hid baseball bats and viciously beat these vulnerable people who were down-on-their-luck as it is. And they had so much fun beating the homeless, they even videotaped it. One of their homeless victims, Norris Gaynor, was sleeping, and they brutally beat him to death.
This is not a case of circumstantial evidence, where it’s in doubt whether these people committed this murder. They videotaped it.
A man was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for killing a homeless man with a baseball bat in 2006 and harming two others. One of the violent attacks was captured on video, outraging homeless advocates nationwide.
Thomas Daugherty, 19, received the sentence for his role in the death of Norris Gaynor. Prosecutors say Daugherty and 21-year-old Brian Hooks, who will be sentenced Friday, hid baseball bats in their pants and sneaked up on homeless people including 45-year-old Gaynor.
Gaynor was sleeping on a park bench when the teens beat him so badly they broke his nose, five ribs and crushed his skull. . . .
Daugherty and Hooks were both convicted last month of second-degree murder and two counts each of attempted second-degree murder. Prosecutors sought first-degree murder charges against them, but did not seek the death penalty against them or a third defendant because Daugherty was 17 at the time and is ineligible for capital punishment.
Daugherty’s defense attorney and family members painted a picture of a child wrecked by his upbringing including his parent’s divorce at a young age and his drug use from age 11.
A third defendant, William Ammons, 21, pleaded guilty in May to felony murder and aggravated assault in the beatings and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Prosecutors said the teens were smoking marijuana and drinking vodka when they decided in the early hours of Jan. 12, 2006, to go cruising and “beat up some bums.” They drove to three separate locations, first assaulting Jacques Pierre, 61, who was captured on video.
The ferocity of the assaults shocked homeless advocates.
In my view, all three of those involved deserve the death penalty. They knew what they were doing. And they took innocent, defenseless people’s lives away in a deliberately painful way, meant to induce suffering.
I think the death penalty should rarely be used and only in the most extreme cases. This is one of them.
Sadly, the Supreme Court took that option away.
Yes, Kennedy was a Republican pick, but expect more misguided decisions that deny justice . . . with an Obama Supreme Court.