Four members of a teenage gang have been charged under a state’s lynching law after allegedly beating an 18-year-old student so badly he required facial reconstruction surgery.
South Carolina prosecutors have charged the boys with second-degree assault and battery by mob, a crime which until last year was known as lynching.
The eight members of the gang, the youngest of whom is just 13, allegedly set upon Carter Strange in a parking lot as he jogged back to his home in Columbia.
They allegedly turned themselves in after surveillance footage of the gang roaming the streets in the area was released on local television.
The savage attack left Carter so badly injured his mother, Vicki, almost didn’t recognise him when she saw him lying on his hospital bed.
She said: ‘I literally bent over him; I recognised his hand and his hair, and I said “that’s my son”.’
He was left with a broken nose and a broken eye socket, and doctors had to operate to remove a blood clot.
\Mrs Strange arrived in court on Friday with her husband, John, to watch as the eldest of the gang, 19-year-old Thyeem Henrey, was charged with second-degree assault and battery by mob, common law robbery, and criminal conspiracy.
A 14-year-old, 15-year-old, and 16-year-old appeared in juvenile court to be charged with strong arm robbery, second-degree assault and battery by a mob, and criminal conspiracy.
A 13-year-old and three other 16-year-olds were charged with criminal conspiracy. They are all too young to be named.
The brutal beating happened last Sunday, when Carter, described as a ‘sweet and quiet’ boy, was jogging back home from a friend’s house.
Mrs Strange said she called him just after midnight, his curfew time.
She told Channel 10: ‘At 12:07 he wasn’t home, I called him and said “Carter where are you?”
‘He said “Momma, I’m almost home. I’ll be there in just a minute.” At 12:15 I called, but the phone was dead.’
The gang had allegedly been roaming around the area for most of the evening, and police said they had already tried–and failed–to rob four other people.
When they saw Carter, they allegedly ran towards him, savagely assaulted him and stole his cell phone.
Police Chief Randy Scott said: ‘This teenager was minding his own business, trying to make his curfew when he was brutally attacked and robbed.’
Henrey broke down in court as Carter’s parents vented their anger.
Mrs Strange said: ‘Since Carter didn’t fight against them eight Sunday, I’m going to fight for him now. I’m going to fight for him until my last breath.’
Her husband said: ‘I pray that you get your life right. Find God. If you pray for forgiveness, he will forgive you. I don’t have that in my heart right now. Maybe one day, but not today.’
Mrs Strange told Channel 10: ‘We got lucky he didn’t die. Next person won’t be lucky. If they did this now, what’s to stop them from doing it again?’
Henrey remains in custody. His bond was set at $750,000.
Logan Smith, WISTV, June 25, 2011