Homing the Homeless Through Hate Crime Law?

Homing the Homeless Through Hate Crime Law?
Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP, File)

One summer day of 2005, two teenage boys beat a homeless man dead in the woods some 55-miles northeast of Orlando, Florida. The murder of Michael Roberts, the 53-year-old victim, may have gone unnoticed were it not for the fact that his killers tried to showcase his body to a teenage girl, who, instead of being impressed, had her mother call the police. After an initial beating, the teenagers—one fourteen, the other eighteen, both high on pot—had dragged Roberts to their play fort, where they continued to assault him ruthlessly. The lethal blow was delivered by one of the boys jumping on a log placed across the man’s ribs.

Roberts’ murder is one in a long series of wantonly violent acts against the homeless perpetrated by underage kids “bored and looking for something fun to do” (as the court records gathered). When, in rarer cases, they are perpetrated by adult defendants, the attacks appear to only grow in gruesomeness, escalating to rape and arson (as in a recent case from May this year in Washington, D.C.).


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