Teens avoid life in prison in fatal homeless beating
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Four teenagers avoided life in prison Monday in the fatal beating of a homeless man last year.
Circuit Judge Joseph Will handed down sentences ranging from 35 years to 22.8 years in prison in the death of Michael Roberts, who was kicked and crushed when the teenagers jumped on a log on his chest in May 2005 in Holly Hill.
Jeffrey Spurgeon, 19, Justin Stearns, 18, Warren Messner, 16, and Chris Scamahorn, 15, pleaded guilty late last year to charges of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Spurgeon was sentenced to 35 years in prison, Stearns to 27 years, Scamahorn to 35 years and Messner to 22.28 years. All four will be on probation for the rest of their lives, court spokeswoman Linda Pruitt said.
Prosecutors asked for life in prison, saying the teens beat the man to death as he begged for his life and bragged about the killing for weeks before they were caught.
"Very, very few people are capable of committing such a heinous, brutal murder of an innocent person, and when it is done, the people who do that need to be kept away from society. Society deserves that protection," prosecutor Ed Davis said.
Defense attorneys said the teens had family and drug problems and did not understand the severity of the crime.
A fifth youth, Phi Huynk, 16, still faces a charge of aggravated battery.(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)