Suspects Caught After Stomping on Homeless Man

Homeless man beaten in shopping mall parking lot

By Ari Odzer
|  Tuesday, Jun 1, 2010  |  Updated 7:19 PM EDT
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Homeless Hate Crime?

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Homeless Hate Crime?

Two men are behind bars tonight after facing a judge. They are accused of brutally beating a South Florida man.
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Johnny Warden is 68, homeless, and in critical condition at Broward General Medical Center after two young men viciously attacked him in Sunday a shopping center parking lot..

Lauderhill Police arrested two suspects yesterday, Neil Wilson and Roberto Rodriguez, and charged both of them with attempted first-degree murder.

"Items were taken from him, so we're not sure if he was attacked because he was homeless or if he was robbed or it could've been both," said Lauderhill Police Captain Constance Stanley. "They stomped him, kicked him, punched him several times, basically left him for dead."

Witnesses saw the attackers literally jumping up and down on 68-year-old Warden's head.

That doesn't sound like the two guys Telisha Olige sees hanging around all the time at the shopping plaza.

"No, not at all, " Olige said. "Doesn't sound like the guys I know. I never thought they'd do something like that. They're pretty quiet."

The big question may be does this qualify as a hate crime? Florida recently added homeless people as a category under the state's hate crime statute.

"Not everybody that picks on a homeless person simply does it because they're homeless," explained Sean Cononie, a homeless rights advocate and publisher of  The Homeless Voice. "They are much easier targets, obviously, being homeless, but when we enforce these hate crimes statutes, to be fair in all aspects, we need to make sure the motive was really hate."

One factor which may weigh against Warden being a hate crime victim is that witnesses in the park heard arguing before the attack.

Also, Wilson may also be homeless.

Police acknowledge this could be a case of homeless on homeless violence.

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