Tom Daugherty, 17, is the grinning boy in the video showing three Florida teenagers beating a homeless man with a baseball bat. In a profile of the teens, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel quotes from a letter Daugherty wrote to an ex-girlfriend from the Broward County Jail: “All I do is think about you, but the thing is, is that I don’t think I’ll ever get out…Even though I didn’t do it I was still there, and that makes me an accesorie. Which is just as bad in everyones eyes. That’s why I think that you should just tell everyone to forget about me.”
Daugherty is the youngest of the teens charged with beating three homeless men for sport, killing an Army veteran who made his home on the streets in Fort Lauderdale. The Jan. 12 attacks stunned a community, but court records and interviews show these teens had long been troubled. Daugherty dropped out of high school, fought with his father, shuttled between homes in South Florida and Tennessee, and was diagnosed with a “mental health issue” just before the crime. Billy Ammons, 18, had been the target of at least 10 police complaints — some filed by his mother, who told police she could not control her defiant son. Brian Hooks, 18, bragged openly about beating up homeless people, friends later told investigators.