Saturday, January 26, 2013
Two Of Five Arlington Texas Teens Plead Guilty To Anti-Gay Vandalism; Plea Agreement Sees Each Receive Three Years’ Probation
In Fort Worth, Texas, two of five teens pleaded guilty Friday to painting anti-homosexual and racist slurs as well as hateful and derogatory images on cars and homes in an Arlington neighborhood this summer. Seth Hatcher, 19, and Morgen Rae Aubuchon, 18, both of Arlington, received three years' deferred-adjudication probation as part of a plea agreement, attorneys said. If both defendants have complied with the terms of their probation after three years, they will not have a conviction on their record, state District Judge Mollee Westfall said. The charge of graffiti causing $1,500 to $20,000 damage is a state jail felony, according to the Star-Telegram. Westfall said that if the teens fail to comply, they could face up to two years in a state jail. Neither teen would comment on the incident or the plea arrangement. Hatcher and Aubuchon each have to pay $300 in fines and more than $6,400 in restitution, perform 120 hours of community service at a minimum of 20 hours a month at Samaritan House, the AIDS Outreach Center or any other organization approved by the court. The two defendants must also testify truthfully about the actions of their co-defendants in any trial that might arise from the June 10 incident, which angered Arlington residents whose vehicles and homes were defaced. Aubuchon's attorney, William Brian Goza, said his client reached a fair settlement and wants to put this episode behind her. "I've been around her for a little while now and she's a good kid," Goza said. "She has two jobs. She was 17 at the time of the offense, and she just used very poor judgment, as 17-year-olds sometimes do." Hatcher's attorney, Lex Johnston, said his client feels the same way. "I've known his family for a while," Johnston said. "He feels terrible about what they did, and he's looking forward to getting on with the rest of his life." Authorities arrested the two defendants and three other suspects after surveillance cameras at some of the homes captured clear images of people painting the graffiti, said Betty Arvin, assistant district attorney. The incidents occurred close together, and when approached by police, some of the suspects admitted their roles, Arvin said. Images and words were repeated at different locations, and the same paint colors were used. "If there is a silver lining to this, some of the victims said it did help make the neighborhood more cohesive," Arvin said. "People say neighbors are more supportive of each other now." Besides Hatcher and Aubuchon, grand jurors returned indictments of graffiti causing $1,500 to $20,000 against John Austin Cartwright, 17, of Arlington and Daniel Damian Sibley, 18, of Fort Worth. A juvenile who was 16 at the time also faced court action.