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Youths Charged in Beating Share a Long, Hard Past

Crime: Several accused of killing a Wisconsin man lack fathers and have criminal records.

October 04, 2002|From Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — One boy said he does not attend school because his mother does not know where to send him.

Another was arrested for burglary before he was 10. His father is dead and, at 14, he's a father himself.

A third in the mob of boys accused of beating a man to death with broomsticks, shovels and poles said he took part because he didn't want anyone calling him scared.

Seven were charged as adults Thursday with first-degree reckless homicide. The youngest of those held, a 10-year-old, was charged as a juvenile with being party to the crime of reckless homicide.

In the days since Sunday's beating, the statements from some of the boys have shed light on the group.

Authorities say the boys hunted down Charlie Young Jr. and beat him bloody and unconscious outside a home where he sought to escape them.

The violence started when one of the group threw an egg at Young, police say. Young then struck the 14-year-old in the mouth, knocking out a tooth and prompting the group to go after the man.

Young, 36, died Tuesday after he was taken off life support.

"If I had known he was beat that bad, to tell the truth I would not have touched him at all," wrote the 14-year-old, who said he retaliated when Young punched him. "I do not want him to die because my tooth is not more important than his life is. I'm sorry."

The 10-year-old's lawyer, Craig Mastantuono, said the boy should be released to his parents because he has a stable home and has been attending school.

"He is in fourth grade," Mastantuono said. "Judge, he can't drive a car. I doubt that he is a flight risk at all."

Assistant Dist. Atty. Joy Hammond said the boy took part in the attack from beginning to end and reportedly told another boy, "We went back and beat him some more."

The boy made one brief remark in court: "I don't wanna talk to no police officers." Judge Tim Witkowiak ordered him detained in a juvenile facility. According to statements the boys have made to police, five of their fathers are dead. Another is in prison. Most of the boys have criminal histories--from curfew violations to possession of cocaine and a 9-millimeter handgun. Their statements reveal most grew up in the neighborhood where the beating occurred.

Two of the boys said they participated in the attack because they were scared of the group.

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