Two teens get life for killing homeless men

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Two teens get life for killing homeless men

Post by Justice4all on Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:47 pm

BY L.L. BRASIER
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Two 15-year-olds, shackled, tears streaming down their faces, were sent to prison for life this morning for their roles in the beating deaths of two Pontiac homeless men during a three-day crime spree in August 2008.

In a tense and packed courtroom, Thomas McCloud and Dontez Tillman faced visiting Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Steven Andrews, who appeared at times furious at their crimes, but also pained over their life sentences, mandatory under Michigan law.

Both boys, who had no prior criminal records, apologized in soft spoken voices for their crimes. “I’m sorry for the families, and I’m sorry for my family too,” McCloud said. He wiped tears from his face.

His attorney, Howard Arnkoff, who has practiced criminal defense work for more than 30 years, told the judge, “This is one of the saddest days I have ever spent as an attorney.” Noting that McCloud has mental illness and comes from an impoverished and sometimes violent home in Pontiac, he said, “My client had no chance in life from the get-go, …but that’s not an excuse to commit these acts.”

Both boys were offered plea deals from prosecutors – plead to second degree murder, a conviction that can carry as little as 15 years. The boys mothers refused, the defense attorneys say. The offers were made the day before trial, and again while the juries were deliberating.

The judge shook his head often during the sentencing.

“Mr. McCloud, you killed two people. You killed two men who did you no wrong,” Andrews said, as McCloud’s mother and sister wept quietly in the courtroom. “At your age, going to the penitentiary is difficult. Don’t make any friends. Keep quiet. Follow the rules. And hold your head up high.”

To Tillman, the judge said, “You and your codefendant literally kicked a man to death. … This is a sad day for the criminal justice system.”

As Tillman’s mother, sobbing, ran from the courtroom, the judge shouted, “Stop that crying! Are you feeling sorry for yourself or for him?”

Two Oakland County Circuit Court juries convicted the two middle-school students as adults of first-degree murder in October. Wilford Hamilton, 61, and Lee Hoffman, 65, were found beaten to death on Pontiac streets during a three-day span. Police believe there were several other teens involved.

At today’s hearing, Laura Hamilton, Wilford Hamilton’s sister-in-law, told the courtroom that he had been a kind and artistic man who became homeless because of his long-term addiction to alcohol. “It gives us some comfort that he no longer has to struggle with his demons,” she said. “I also believe he would have forgiven these boys. To the mothers of these boys, my heart goes out to you. May God have mercy on you and my prayers are with you.”

A third teen, Darrin Higgins Jr., also of Pontiac, was recently arrested in the case and charged with first-degree murder in the case. A trial date has not been set.

http://www.freep.com/article/20091202/NEWS03/91201094/1001/NEWS/2-teens-get-life-sentences-for-beating-deaths

They were crazy not to take the plea deal. The third one better think twice before turning down a plea deal if offered.
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Re: Two teens get life for killing homeless men

Post by Dis on Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:03 am

How very sad....these boys had no sympathy for the men they killed...how sad....now there are 4 lives ruined...maybe 5. I can see why the judge got angry.

Thanks for posting this J4A
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Re: Two teens get life for killing homeless men

Post by Piper on Fri Dec 04, 2009 6:59 pm

The senseless beatings of the homeless just for kicks infuriates me. These teens think it's cool to attack helpless people. How are those shackles working for ya, boys?
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