Tree vandals sentenced
- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - Features
The three juveniles charged with wanton destruction of first one memorial tree and then its replacement have been sentenced for their crimes.
>The three young men charged with destroying two memorial trees will spend a few days in jail, make apologies and perform community service
Bradley Eugene Marquez, 17, and two 16-year-old buddies, Teddy James Hussey and Colin Eugene Dickson, a resident of Dallas, Oregon, had been arrested on charges of criminal mischief. Hussey and Marquez were also charged with abuse of a venerated object.
The crimes the boys all pleaded guilty to was vandalizing the WWII memorial tree at the World War II Memorial in Ochoco Creek Park. The three boys were sentenced in separate hearings because of the nature of the crimes.
Dickson and Marquez were charged with being involved with the destruction of the first "Dwight D. Eisenhower" Green Ash Trees. That tree had been ceremoniously dedicated on Memorial Day in honor of the 16 million soldiers in uniform and millions of others who supported them during the war. The first tree was planted as part of the nationwide "Operation Silent Witness" program. A short time later that tree was destroyed.
Local businessmen came forth with a second tree to replace the first, having it shipped in from Texas. A few days later that tree was also cut down.
According to the police investigation, the first tree was trashed by Dickson and Hussey. Marquez did not participate in that incident. However, later in the month, after the destroyed tree had been replaced Hussey and Marquez returned and demolished the second tree.
In a letter of apology published in this newspaper, Marquez stated that he had not known the tree was a memorial. "When I found out it was a memorial tree a sickness in my stomach overwhelmed me," he wrote in a letter that later was shown to be completely false.
A few days after the letter was published, the young offender confessed to the police that he lied in taking responsibility for vandalizing the first tree.
In answer to the question about why he would confess to such a thing, Marquez told him that it had been Colin Dickson "who is like a brother and I didn't want him to get into trouble."
Marquez and Dickson were sentenced in circuit court on two charges, criminal mischief and abuse of a venerated object. They were each sentenced to spend four days in detention, complete 80 hours of community service "to be done for veterans service units" and pay $378 in restitution. The restitution would go directly to the Parks and Recreation District, District Attorney Gary Williams said.
Both boys were also directed to make face-to-face apologies to local veterans groups and the Parks and Rec board. They will have to assist in the planting of a new tree "if permitted by the veterans." They will also research and write a 15-page report on World War II "particularly focusing on Dwight D. Eisenhower" within 90- days.
Hussey's sentencing hearing was a little different. Having been involved with the destruction of both trees, he was charged with two counts of criminal mischief and two counts of abuse of a venerated object.
Public defender Daniel York and Williams reached an agreement that if Hussey admitted to the two criminal mischief charges and one charge of abuse, the other charge would be dropped. After the hearing, Williams just shook his head when asked the reason for York's request to drop one of the abuse charges and not the other.
York did take exception to the definition of what constitutes a memorial, however. Judge Gary Thompson had indicated that because of Hussey's involvement in breaking both trees, he would be sentenced to eight days in jail. York asked that his client be given the same as the others, four days.
After hearing York's explanation, which was mainly that to be a venerated object, it had to be a memorial and the legal definition of a memorial is limited to a tomb, structure of place of worship -- "something erected as a memorial to the dead" -- a tree did not qualify.
"Memorials are designed to remember the dead," York explained, "these trees were dedicated to WWII veterans, many of whom are still alive." Therefore, he reasoned, the trees could not be venerated objects.
That didn't satisfy Judge Thompson. "There is a WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. that honors veterans, some of whom are still alive. The idea that a memorial is restricted to somebody who is dead ... I don't think so."
In addition to making the face-to-face apology, community service, making restitution and writing the 15-page essay on WWII, Hussey was also sentenced to eight days in the Bend juvenile detention center.
Hussey will also be under house arrest through the end of the year and is forbidden to apply for a drivers license until next July. Plus, Thompson admonished the juvenile, "there is to be no contact with the other boys unless supervised."