Men plead no contest to beating Daytona veteran who tried to save turtle

Judge hands down probation sentences

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Two men plead no contest on Monday to beating a Navy veteran who tried to stop them from torturing a turtle at a Daytona Beach apartment complex.

Ryan Ponder, 23, and Johnnie Beveritt, 18, were arrested February 14 and charged with battery and animal cruelty. A 16-year-old boy was also arrested.

Police said the trio found a turtle near a pond at Wedgewood Apartments and tortured it by smashing it against the sidewalk and kicking it.

Garry Blough's wife told him the three suspects were attacking the turtle and he went to confront them.

"The one had it over his head and he was smashing it down on the sidewalk," Blough told News 6 in February. "I asked them to please leave it alone, just let it go to the lake."

Police said the men attacked Blough, leaving him with a broken skull and facial bones, internal bleeding and a concussion. 

The turtle was found dead nearby in a pool of blood, police said.

Ponder and Beveritt both plead no contest to their role in the attack during a court appearance Monday in Volusia County.

A judge sentenced them both to 18 months probation on the felony count and 12 months probation concurrent on the misdemeanor count. 

Both men were also ordered to not have contact with each other, any wildlife and Blough. They will each need to take two days of anger-management classes within the next 90 days and pay $16,500 in restitution.

As part of Beveritt's probation he must complete school. His mother said in court Monday that her son is a good man who is back on the right track.

"He has a job, he's enrolled in school. He's ready to go," she said.

Blough said he hopes all three of his attackers learn their lesson.

"This is their second chance. Their only second chance. If they mess up on probation, then they pay the piper," he said.

The disabled Navy veteran said he's still recovering from nerve damage and vision difficulties as a result of the beating and he's burdened with mounting medical bills. A GoFundMe page has been established to help pay for his medical expenses.

About the Authors:

Loren Korn is a native Texan who joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2014. She was born and raised in Houston and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Journalism.