Local News

June 28, 2014

Business owners hope vandals pay up, learned lesson

Though three men who damaged more than 50 Dalton-area businesses were sentenced last week, Buckin’ Burrito owner Stan Fetzer said justice hasn’t been achieved quite yet.

“I won’t feel like justice is served until finally being reimbursed for the hole that still remains (in the restaurant’s front window),” he said.

District Attorney Bert Poston said that three men, Nicholas Lane Atkins, Kinsey Logan Baggett and Ricky Herbert Pratt, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal trespass; investigators said the trio used slingshots to shoot marbles through windows of storefronts along Thornton Avenue, Hamilton Street, Walnut Avenue, Glenwood Avenue and Morris Street, among others, in July last year.

According to Poston, the men will pay a total of more than $40,000 in restitution, face 60 months probation and each serve 100 hours of community service, as part of a plea deal.

Crutchfield’s Furniture owner Jason Bunch said last year, after replacing a shattered window at his North Hamilton Street location, that he hoped the offenders would receive more than “just a slap of the wrist.”

Wednesday, Bunch said, “I think (the judgment) sounds like a fair penalty to me. I am glad that they’re having to pay everyone back for the damage they caused.”

“I think everyone deserves a second chance. I hope they are able to learn from their mistakes, and hopefully everyone can move ahead,” he said. “It is nice to finally have some closure. I hope they, and others, can take a lesson from this and see that this isn’t how you treat other people.”

Kellie Smith’s Design Studio, on North Hamilton, was also struck by the offenders.

“I find it unfortunate that some people find it interesting to vandalize other people’s property. But, I am happy to see that (these men) are facing punishment,” she said. “I hope that, through their punishment, they learn a lesson, and can move on to be productive citizens of our community.”

Like Fetzer, Oscar’s Shoe, Boot and Leather Repair owner Oscar Urizar said he plans to wait and see — windows and signage were damaged at Urizar’s property.

“I thought the punishment would be a little tougher. But, that is what the judge ordered, and there is nothing we can do to change it,” he said. “I think the judge did what he thought was right. And, as long as they pay us back — though I don’t know how they will do that — then all will be fine.”

Sam Sanders, the attorney for Baggett, said, “They are all young and they were all sentenced as first offenders, so if they successfully complete the terms of the probation, they can each truthfully say they don’t have a conviction on their record.”

When they were arrested last year, Baggett, of Resaca, was 17, Atkins, of Dalton, was 20, and Pratt, of Dalton, was 22.

“These are all good boys, but they are young and just made a pretty stupid error in judgment,” Sanders said. “I know my guy will learn from it and go on to lead a fine life.”

Marcus Morris, who represented Pratt, said on Wednesday that the men have already raised the full amount of the restitution funds.

“All of the defense lawyers got together, with the District Attorney’s Office, and determined that the most important thing would be making everyone with damages whole. We waited to submit the plea until we knew we could do that,” Morris said. “Each defendant, through whatever means necessary, has been able to come up with about $14,000 each. I think this is a fair judgment, and I hope that it is enough for the business owners.”

Money will begin being paid back “by the end of the week,” he said.

Morris echoed Sanders’ sentiments about the trio responsible for the destructive joyride.

“My client is a young man that got caught up in something, and never in a million years would do it again. It was a spur of the moment incident,” he said. “These are not young boys that set out to do wrong. They did wrong, but I don’t think they began with those intentions.”

 

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