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Boys, 10, charged in beating of homeless man

/ Source: The Associated Press

A homeless day laborer was recovering in a hospital Friday after two 10-year-old boys and an older teen were charged with attacking him on a street and smashing a concrete block into his face.

The three boys, each charged by police with aggravated battery, face a hearing next week to determine if they should remain in juvenile detention. At their first court appearance, the two younger boys were escorted from jail in oversized white jumpsuits, their hands chained in front of them and their legs in shackles.

"They are dangerous," the 57-year-old victim, John D'Amico, told The Associated Press from his hospital bed. "The street doesn't need them. They need to be somewhere."

State prosecutors have made no decisions yet on what formal charges will be pursued or whether any of the boys will be charged as adults, said Linda Pruitt, a spokeswoman for State Attorney John Tanner.

"We will review the facts and the evidence in the case and determine what is the appropriate decision," Pruitt said.

D'Amico said he was walking with a friend through a Daytona Beach neighborhood just before 9 p.m. Tuesday when the trio on bicycles started throwing sand and small rocks at them.

Then they got off their bikes and started throwing larger rocks, he said.

'Big kids for their age'
D'Amico said he fell into a wall after the 17-year-old punched him in the face, breaking the brick wall. One of the 10-year-olds then slammed a piece of the broken wall onto his face, he said.

"They were big kids for their age," D'Amico told the AP. "The little kid was taunting me. The big kid came over and just slugged me. If they just would have let me walk on, I would have walked on."

D'Amico has had reconstructive surgery on his face since the attack. He said he didn't think he was targeted simply for being homeless.

"I don't look that homeless. I'm not really dirty, slobby homeless," he said. "I'm familiar in the neighborhood. I don't know these kids, never seen them before."

Police didn't return a phone message left Friday seeking comment, and no parents were in the courtroom during the boys' first appearance before a judge Wednesday.

Police chief flabbergasted
A police report shows the parents were notified of the boys' arrests.

"For a 10-year-old to pick up a cinder block and smash somebody's face with it, that defies logic," police Chief Michael Chitwood told The Daytona Beach News-Journal on Thursday. He said the court system needs to take a close look at the children's backgrounds and families.

Private defense attorneys Tonya Cromartie and Jonathon Glugover, who represent the younger boys, had just been assigned to the case Friday, so they couldn't comment, assistants said.

Volusia County Public Defender Jim Purdy, who represents the older boy, said he won't know until next week if his client will be charged as an adult.

The case was the latest example of violence involving homeless people in Florida. Four teenagers got lengthy prison sentences for beating a homeless man to death in 2005 near Daytona Beach. Three other teenagers face possible life sentences if convicted of beating a homeless man to death with a baseball bat in Fort Lauderdale in a 2006 attack that was caught on surveillance video.