Mother speaks out on beating
PORT CHARLOTTE — Official reports and statements from Lee Hill, the man charged with aggravated battery in connection with the vicious beating of a homeless man underneath the
U.S. 41 bridge, don’t tell the whole story, according to Tammy Griffin, mother of the 14 year-old boy who was also charged in the beating.
Instead, Griffin said her son was not the main aggressor and was hardly present for the attack by Hill, which resulted in the victim having all the bones in his face broken and blood seeping onto his brain.
Griffin also said there was at least one other aggressor under the bridge that night, one who has not been questioned or identified by authorities.
“If I knew what was going to happen, I would have tried to step in,” Griffin said. “But I wasn’t there when it happened.”
The attack, which took place Sept. 29, was the result of the victim being caught sniffing Griffin’s daughter’s underwear while doing laundry, information that was contained in the report and confirmed by Hill. The victim made a joke out of the matter when confronted by Hill and the boy, and they attacked him while Griffin was away from the camp, according to reports.
Since their arrests, the boy has been released by the Department of Juvenile Justice, while Hill still sits in the Charlotte County Jail on $55,000 bond. The boy’s next court date is Tuesday, while Hill’s arraignment is set for Nov. 19. The victim has since been treated for his injuries and released from Lee Memorial Hospital, following an extended stay.
Griffin confirmed the laundry incident, but added that people at the homeless camp, which included Hill, her son, and several other men, had given the victim money to make separate purchases for them at a nearby store. Instead, the victim spent all the money on synthetic marijuana, Griffin said, and when he returned it had angered the group.
Words between the victim and Griffin’s son resulted in the victim attacking the boy, Griffin said, but the boy only threw a few punches in order to defend himself and then went with his mother to a nearby RaceTrac gas station. When they returned to the campsite 20 minutes later, Hill was on top of the man, and the bridge abutment and surrounding area were splattered with blood. Hill had to be pulled off of the victim, Griffin said.
The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office said it is not actively seeking another attacker in the investigation, as the victim was adamant that Hill and the boy were the only aggressors. CCSO spokesman Bob Carpenter said that the victim told detectives that Hill and the boy had been the ones smoking synthetic marijuana, doing so before they attacked him.
Whatever the case, Griffin is adamant herself that Hill greatly exaggerated their connection. She says they are not together and never were, something he asserted. Hill repeatedly referred to Griffin and her children as his family, going as far as calling the boy “son.” Griffin said the children, like her, want nothing to do with Hill.
For now, she’s happy to have her son back, despite the legal action looming over his head. During the night of his arrest, she said, their separation was devastating, having never been separated before.
“Having your child taken feels like your heart is being ripped out of your chest,” she said.