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60-year-old homeless man hobbles to courtroom, tells jury about beating
The diminutive man, aided by a cane and a courtroom deputy, hobbled to the witness stand Monday to tell Broward County jurors how he was "hit with a full baseball bat" on the nape of the neck, forehead and arm nearly three years ago.
"I saw two guys," said Jacques Pierre, 60, barely audible and with a graying beard fringing his chin. "One with black dress, the other one had a white T-shirt or something like this."
Pierre, a homeless man who said he lives on Broward Boulevard, described how he was sitting on a bench and bending over to pick up a newspaper when the two assailants set upon him at the downtown Fort Lauderdale campus of Florida Atlantic University.
The Jan. 12, 2006, attack and Pierre's escape were captured by a video surveillance camera.
In rapt silence, Broward County jurors watched the recording — three times.
After the first viewing, one elderly female juror placed a hand upon her cheek and leaned forward to take a look at the two Plantation men accused of beating Pierre and two other homeless men, one to death.
Thomas Daugherty, 19, and Brian Hooks, 21, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. If convicted, they face life in prison.
About an hour after Pierre's 1 a.m. beating, Norris Gaynor, 45, was attacked while sleeping on a park bench near the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. About two hours after that, Raymond Perez, 52, was clobbered with a golf club and plastic sword as he slept swathed in a blanket at the Church by the Sea near the 17th Street Causeway.
Attorneys for Daugherty and Hooks say their clients, high on drugs and alcohol, were out to "mess with some homeless men" but had no intention to kill or do serious harm.
The emergency room doctor who treated the three beaten men at Broward General Medical Center told the jury Gaynor had little chance of survival.
His face looked "like a smashed pumpkin," Dr. Victor Chance Young said. "His head was all pummeled in ... He was barely gasping ... He was basically choking on his own blood."
Pierre, with a fractured forehead, and Perez, requiring staples in his scalp and sutures along his hairline, were "lucky" to survive, Young said. third assailant, William "Billy" Ammons, 21, is expected to testify this week. He cut a deal, pleading guilty to third-degree murder and aggravated battery in exchange for a 10- to 20-year sentence.