Brawlers beat random stranger to death in GeorgiaIt began with a brawl outside a house party. A woman hit a man, and the man refused to strike back, saying he wouldn't hit a girl. Instead, he vowed to attack the next male who walked by, even if that person was a random stranger.
DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. (AP) — It began with a brawl outside a house party. A woman hit a man, and the man refused to strike back, saying he wouldn't hit a girl. Instead, he vowed to attack the next male who walked by, even if that person was a random stranger.
That's when 18-year-old Bobby Tillman happened to approach a group of four partygoers. Authorities said they swiftly stomped, kicked and punched him to death while dozens of bystanders watched.
“He had nothing to do with anything,” said Maj. Tommy Wheeler of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. “They just decided he's the one. And they killed him.”
The party Saturday night was supposed to be a small gathering of about 10 friends of a high school girl who lived in this middle-class suburb west of Atlanta. It soon grew to an unruly crowd of about 80 people after word spread by e-mail and text message.
As the crowd grew, the girl's parents asked the partygoers to leave. But the party just spilled into the street, and neighbors became frustrated by the number of parked cars.
That's when a fight broke out between two females and two males, and one of the females hit a male, Wheeler said.
Then, in a case of twisted chivalry, the man decided he would not retaliate — but vowed to beat up the next man who passed by, investigators said.
Tillman, who had apparently come for the party but attended a different high school than most of the other young people, unwittingly became the target.
Barbara Stephens, who lives across the street from the house where the party was held, said she saw Tillman fall to the ground and then saw one man viciously kick him repeatedly.
“I've been re-seeing it over and over,” she said. “Every time I close my eyes I can see it. They were violent kicks — it was the worst thing I've ever seen.”
She said it seemed like dozens of teenagers were watching the assault.
Stephens’ husband, Edd Stephens Jr., said he told his son to call 911 and authorities told him they already had officers en route. He said he watched Tillman stand up and try to walk away and then stumble into a nearby lawn.
“We didn't realize he was hurt that bad,” he said. “I assumed he was drunk.”
Dozens of witnesses were taken to the sheriff's office for questioning, and four people were arrested.
Tillman's mother, Monique Rivarde, couldn't contain herself Monday during an initial hearing for the suspects, bursting into tears as soon as she set foot in the courtroom and wailing as prosecutors charged each man with fatally beating her son.
“He was an angel here on Earth, and I was blessed to be his mother,” Rivarde said. “My son did not die in vain. My son is a silent hero. He touched so many lives I didn't know about. Bobby was a ray of sunshine through every dark cloud that anyone had.”
The four suspects were identified as Quantez Devonta Mallory, 18; Horace Damon Coleman, 19; Emanuel Benjamin Boykins, 18; and Tracen Lamar Franklin, 19. All were charged with murder Monday.
None of them had an attorney in the courtroom, but some of their relatives were frustrated they had not been able to contact the men since their arrests.
“They haven't even allowed me to call him,” said Erica Hillery, Mallory's mother. “I feel real bad for the victim's parents, but I need to know what's going on. If he's 18 or 35, he's still my son.”
The parents of the girl who threw the party did not answer their door Monday. Douglas County Sheriff Phil Miller did not expect them to face charges. He said no drugs or alcohol were found in the house.
Kizzy Powell, who lives next door to the small white house where the party took place, said she rushed home after learning from her brother that police had strung crime scene tape near her house. She got home in time to see medics trying to save Tillman.
“It was terrible, and so many people watched it like it was a sport. I keep seeing it over and over,” she said. “The saddest part to me is that no one helped. I wish I could have gotten home earlier and that my lights would have scared them.”
Douglas County District Attorney David McDade said he will ask a grand jury to indict the men within two weeks. He did not say whether he would pursue the death penalty.
“I don't think you'll ever know why it happened. It's senseless,” he said. “This is an absolutely unprovoked, senseless killing by young people killing another young man for no reason, no motive.”