FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) — A video posted on YouTube a few days before Christmas in 2011 shows a young man striding purposefully into the woods as a cameraman asks what he's about to do.
"About to go beat up this bum," the man in the video says.
And that's exactly what he does, punching and kicking a homeless man in the face, bloodying his nose, before wishing him a Merry Christmas.
That videotaped assault led to a three-year prison sentence Friday for the man shown carrying it out.
Taylor Giresi, 22, whose lawyer said he has an IQ of 74 and numerous psychological issues, told Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci Jr. that he didn't intend to hurt David Ivins. But he also said he failed to see what the big deal was.
"I already apologized to the homeless man; I knew him," Giresi said in a halting monotone. "It wasn't like anything serious. But when I put it on YouTube it got serious. I wasn't trying to hurt the man."
Giresi pleaded guilty in January under the terms of a plea agreement to conspiring to use a juvenile to commit a crime. More serious charges, including assault, were dropped as part of the agreement.
Prosecutors and Giresi's defense lawyer agreed Giresi was egged on and had his actions directed by a juvenile who filmed the attack and who was 17 at the time. The juvenile, whose name has not been made public, spent more than two months in a state youth detention center, and later received a one-year suspended sentence and placed on probation for a year.
Giresi was 20 at the time of the attack, but had mental issues and were easily influenced by the co-defendant, with whom he lived in Lake Como, not far from the site of the attack in Wall Township, according to court testimony.
"What I did was wrong," said Giresi, who claimed he was under the influence "of marijuana and something else" that day. "I wasn't thinking right. He said the wrong thing at the wrong time; I reacted on it."
Ivins did not attend the court hearing and his whereabouts could not be determined.
The video, which was quickly taken down from the video sharing site after the pair were charged, shows Giresi repeatedly kicking and punching Ivins, while taunting him and pretending to sympathize with him.
"Just dive on him! Dive on him!" the cameraman says on the video as the assailant approaches a disheveled-looking man in a wooded area. The young man in the video knocks the homeless man to the ground, as the attacker and the cameraman dissolve into fits of laughter.
After initially attacking the homeless man, the young man in the video returns to him again. As the cameraman urges him on, he punches the homeless man in the face, sending him sprawling to the ground.
The two then announce they are stealing the homeless man's bicycle.
"No, I need my bike!" the victim protests.
The young man smiles at the camera, then runs off with the bicycle as the cameraman yells, "Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever the (expletive) you are."
The second part of the video appears to chronicle a different assault in which the same victim is punched, kicked and knocked to the ground. He slowly gets up and looks directly at the camera as the cameraman apologizes for the assault in a sarcastic tone.
"Oh, my God, you're bleeding!" the cameraman says. "We didn't mean to do that. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Wipe off the blood."
The cameraman then directs the young man to give the victim a hug. The bleeding victim reaches out to hug his attacker, who then rams his knee into the homeless man's stomach.
The homeless man begins to scream, prompting the attackers to leave, but not before the young man runs up and delivers a flying kick to the victim's head.
"You gave him the big boot!" the cameraman exults. "The big boot!"
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC