CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – Three adults and a group of juveniles charged with felonies after spray-painting a memorial inside a Hampton Park pedestrian tunnel where a friend committed suicide will each pay a $125 fine. All charges in this case were nolle prossed – meaning they’ve been set aside, not to be prosecuted.
“This is one of the most ridiculous criminal cases I’ve ever seen,” defense lawyer John Russell said. “I am grateful for my client [Todd Pitner] that the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office had the good sense to see it for what it was and dispose of it the way it should have been disposed of initially.”
Over the summer friends of Cal Reilly, 17, painted the tunnel as part of a vigil after their friend committed suicide.
Hampton Park neighbor Todd Pitner, 48, happened to see the teens working in the heat and brought them food and water.
“I’m a man of faith. I just want to live the gospel by showing the gospel, so I went home and a got a 24 pack of water and I took it back and I said ‘hey guys, it’s hot out here, stay hydrated,'” Pitner recalled outside of Chesterfield County Monday. Pitner, whose brother committed suicide when he was younger, felt connected to the grieving teens.
“If anyone can’t look at the facts and the evidence and actually have the heart to be able to have some empathy and to take it this far, I think is utterly ridiculous,” Pitner said.
The teens, which included 19-year-old Tyler Cosner, 18-year-old Christopher Justice, four 17 year olds, three 16 year olds, two 15 year olds and one 14 year old were charged with felony conspiracy and property destruction.
Days after the arrest, the Hampton Park Homeowners Association Board said it did not seek to press charges against anyone and that the arrest warrants were issued by a magistrate after police testimony. In fact, the board said it requested “a non-criminal punishment option that included full restitution” to the Homeowner’s Association for the $1,500 it paid a contractor to paint over the graffiti. You can read the full statement from the board here: http://hamptonparkonline.com/open-letter-to-homeowners-from-your-hoa-board