Two teens — one just 14 years old — were charged with murder Wednesday night after a man was found beaten and stabbed to death with a pen.
Hallandale Beach police said the teens confessed to killing the man after a transaction involving money fell through.
“They went to acquire services,” said Hallandale Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy. “This individual was there to facilitate the services. That didn’t happen, but this individual demanded payment.”
Jose Carlos Llano, 14, and Juan Xolo, 17, met up with the man just after midnight. The trio spent nearly four hours together, walking several blocks between Hallandale Beach and Hollywood.
But around 4:30 a.m., a fight broke out. Two homeless men sitting in front of the Advanced Auto Parts Store on Federal Highway called 911.
When police arrived, they found Llano and Xolo hovering over a man laying on the ground and striking his body. The teens took flight, but did not get far.
“They were eventually apprehended and brought back to the area,” said Flournoy. The teens were taken to a juvenile detention center and charged with second-degree murder.
The dead man, whose body — covered with a white tarp — lay near a trash bin and large cardboard boxes until nearly noon, has not been identified. But several people on the street outside Advanced Auto Parts said he could have been a homeless person who frequently had a laptop computer with him.
Llano, a student at Olsen Middle School, and Xolo, who did not attend school, are believed to be cousins and live close by, Hallandale Beach Police said. Their parents work the overnight shift and the boys were unattended.
Llano’s parents, who arrived quickly after police called, said their 14-year-old son is a good student and had never been involved in a fight, according to WFOR-CBS4.
For most of the morning, crime scene tape blocked a large area between McDonald’s and Advanced Auto Parts.
Firefighters used a ladder truck to take aerial shots of the scene. Meanwhile crime scene technicians used orange and white markers to figure out what happened.
While Flournoy would not go into the details of the transaction, he did say a laptop, belonging to the teens, was recovered at the scene.
“It may have been given as currency,” Flournoy said.
Wednesday’s killing is the most recent in a string of violent crimes involving young teens.
In March 2010, 15-year-old Wayne Treacy knocked a 15-year-old girl to the ground at her Deerfield Beach bus stop, kicking her head with his steel-toed boot. Josie Lou Ratley survived, but has brain damage. Treacy was sentenced to 20 years in prison convicted for attempted first degree murder with a weapon.
In October 2009, several Deerfield Beach teens ranging in age from 13 to 15 were involved in pouring rubbing alcohol and setting then 15-year-old Michael Brewer on fire. Brewer jumped in a pool, which likely saved his life.
Brewer, who spent five months in the hospital, had second- and third-degree burns over most of his body. While charges were dropped against the youngest boys involved, three teens have been convicted and are now serving prison terms as long as 11 years.
In January 2006, three teens, one 17 and the other two 18, went on a violent spree against three homeless men in downtown Fort Lauderdale. It left Jacques Pierre and Raymond Perez severely beaten and Norris Gaynor dead. The teens were convicted and are now serving as much as 40 years in prison.
Jose Szapocznik, a clinical psychologist, who specializes in adolescent problem behaviors and the chairman of the department epidemiology and public health at the University of Miami, said that children these days are being “trained,” by being exposed to violence through media and video games.
“They practice killing people thousands of times in video games,” he said. “Killing someone no longer becomes foreign.”
Szapocznik said other factors including environment, genetics and experience can also play a role.
“The younger we are, the faster we learn,” he said. “No matter what it is, the more it becomes part of you.”