[Hpn] Reno, NV - Man pleads guilty in homeless beating -- RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL - 7/2/2002

Editor Editor <icanamerica@bellsouth.net>
Wed, 03 Jul 2002 08:20:26 -0500


MAN PLEADS GUILTY IN HOMELES BEATING

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Martha Bellisle - RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL - 7/2/2002

Reno, NV -- An Idaho man charged with using a 2-by-4 to beat a homeless man to
death earlier this year pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder.

Michael W. Williams, 23, faces life in prison with the possibility of parole in
20 years for the murder and use of a deadly weapon charges.

“He’s very remorseful,” said Erik Nickel, Williams’ court-appointed attorney.
“He knows he got out of hand, and he doesn’t know why. He wanted to take
responsibility for it.”

Jeffrey Haraughty, 39, was asleep on Feb. 3 or Feb. 4 in an abandoned trailer on
East Fourth Street when Williams sneaked in and beat the 39-year-old transient
in the head with the wooden board, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Thomas
Barb.

Haraughty’s body was discovered several days later by the manager of a nearby
restaurant where the victim had worked, officials said.

Police said Haraughty was popular in the neighborhood and news of his death
saddened business owners and other homeless people alike.

Six of Haraughty’s family members, including his mother and sister, attended
Tuesday’s hearing, but declined comment after the plea.

At the time of the attack, Williams was visiting a friend, Mark Warren, owner of
the property the trailer was parked on, Nickel said.

Warren had complained to Williams about “these bums” who were living on his
land, Nickel said.

“One night they were drinking and decided to go over and run them out,” Nickel
said. “Williams just went in there and started whaling on this guy’s head.”

The blows crushed Haraughty’s skull, according to the guilty plea agreement
Williams signed.

Williams replied in brief “yes” and “no” answers as Washoe District Judge Jerome
Polaha questioned him about his guilty plea.

The judge set Aug. 27 as the sentencing date. Williams will continue to be held
in Washoe County Jail until sentencing, Nickel said.

Warren and another man who was with Williams at the time of the beating have not
been charged, Barb said.

Haraughty had lived on the streets of Reno for many years and held odd jobs at
area businesses, police said.


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