NEW PORT RICHEY — Nathaniel Nichols was just 16 years old when he joined a group of Royal Bloods gang members in the brutal beating of one of the gang's leaders, authorities said.
Authorities said Nichols told Joseph Holt he was going to kill him, just before smashing Holt in the face with a crowbar.
Nichols, now 19, went to trial this week for the Oct. 1, 2006, attack. The other gang members all previously entered pleas and are in prison. Nichols was charged with attempted first-degree premeditated murder.
A jury Wednesday morning found him guilty of a less-serious crime: aggravated battery.
But his long history of violence, which started at age 10, still earned him the maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
Circuit Judge Shawn Crane read through Nichols' grim juvenile history: battery after battery, threatening his brother with a knife, chasing neighborhood kids with a gun, bringing a weapon to school and burglarizing a business.
"There is a feeling that you pose a definite threat," Crane told him.
Prosecutors said the attack on Holt was a gang ritual. He was the Royal Bloods' second-in-command, but he wanted out. For that, he had to endure a beating.
Holt took the stand this week, describing life with the Royal Bloods. He sold drugs, he said, to financially support the gang. They called each other family, wore colors and flashed hand signs, but they regularly beat one another to maintain structure.
Prosecutors said Richard "King Shorty" Wears, the leader who ordered the beating, lured Holt out to the woods late that night, telling him he was there to initiate two new members. Instead, four gang members stomped him and beat him with a crowbar.
Nichols, Holt said, struck the last blow after telling him, "I'm going to kill you. I'm going to kill you for the family."
But two of the other participants, called from prison to testify, said Nichols wasn't a member of the Royal Bloods, didn't know about the planned attack on Holt and didn't participate.
Wears, Allen Barrie Harvey III and Andrew Michael Henn pleaded no contest to first-degree attempted murder and other charges in 2007.
Wears got 30 years in prison and will serve every day of that sentence, the state said, because this latest crime occurred within three years of his last prison stint.
Harvey was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Henn got almost 17 years. Another man who was being recruited to the gang, Shane Thomas, got 15 years.
When Wears and the others pleaded in 2007, the Sheriff's Office said their convictions had rendered the Royal Bloods — once 32 members strong — a nonentity.
Sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said Wednesday the gang is still not a factor in Pasco.