Man with autism attacked, robbed while trying to make friends

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. -- Deputies arrested a 25-year-old man and his 16-year-old accomplice for robbing and beating a 22-year-old man with autism.

Hillsborough County deputies say Terrell Newton and the unnamed 16-year-old grabbed the man by his neck when they stole his cell phone and shoes.

The victim, whose father asked that he not be named, told ABC Action News the confrontation started at a basketball court off of Memorial Highway.

The 22-year-old said he was playing basketball and trying to make friends when he was accused of stealing a phone from one of the attackers. He says he never touched someone else’s phone and tried to explain to them that he has a disability.

“(I told them) ‘Listen, I have a disability. I’m not like you. I don’t act like a normal 22-year-old kid. In my head, I’m like 15, but I don’t know how to interact in other situations like that,’” he explained.

Shortly after that exchange he was attacked and robbed. The victim says he chased after the attackers and was beaten a second time.

“They kicked me. They punched me several times in the face,” he said.

The victim says he flagged down a woman to call deputies. Deputies quickly arrested the two accused attackers. The teen had the victim’s shoes and Newton had the stolen cell phone, according to arrest documents.

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