MADEIRA BEACH — Three men accused of beating a commercial fisherman last month have been charged with second-degree murder, authorities said.
According to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Timothy John Schuyler, 31, Joshua Eugene Shroyer, 38, and Kord Lynn Tucker, 39, attacked Michael T. Merrill about 2 a.m. Sept. 12 aboard a 33-foot commercial fishing boat docked at a marina just south of the Tom Stuart Causeway.
The men beat Merrill, 57, with hand tools and other metal objects, deputies said.
All were arrested on aggravated battery charges shortly after the attack.
Merrill, who suffered a ruptured spleen, broken ribs and head injuries, died Oct. 3 at Bayfront Medical Center.
Authorities upgraded the charges against his accused attackers on Tuesday, according to jail reports.
It is still unclear what triggered the beating, officials said. Details of the incident remain vague, and the Sheriff's Office said it is still investigating.
Authorities said the men confronted Merrill on the boat earlier that night.
He told them to leave and reportedly threatened them with a knife.
The trio returned a few hours later, however, and began beating Merrill, deputies said.
He escaped by diving into the water and hiding under the dock, deputies said.
A friend found him there later and called for help.