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Old 05-08-2004   #1
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Kids TP school; charged w/ felony.

‘Rolling’ prank gets 2 charged with felony


By CHRISTIAN BOTTORFF
Staff Writer


Principal Bob Lawson says it's a long-standing tradition for Hillsboro High School seniors to sail toilet paper high into the trees on campus every school year.

But when seniors took to the school early yesterday and did just that, it ended with two seniors, one of them the student body president, charged with felony vandalism and burglary.
It has become one of the most spectacular toilet-papering incidents in Metro school history, said Craig Owensby, spokesman for the school district.

William Thomas Hancock, 18, and Bryan Marshall, 19, were charged with felony counts of burglary and vandalism, although Owensby said yesterday that the school district would not pursue the criminal charges.

Owensby said the accused students would pay the school district for cleanup costs and would have to perform manual labor on campus.

''This definitely is a situation that needs to have some consequences,'' Owensby said. ''But it's not a felony offense and there was never any intention here to bring a felony charge.''

Lawson said he did not know of any past arrests from the annual Hillsboro tradition.

Reached on the telephone yesterday, Marshall said he and his friends were trying to end their high school days with a prank. He maintains they did not break into the school but easily opened a door to reach the school's roof.

''I guess a couple of us got together and decided to roll the school and were unsuccessful,'' Marshall said. ''We were successful in rolling the school. We were unsuccessful in getting away.''

Hancock, the student body president, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Yesterday, there appeared to be some confusion among school district officials about how the students ended up with criminal charges. Owensby said nobody in the school district wanted the students charged with a felony, although a school security officer, Robert Caldwell, signed affidavits in support of charges against them.

The burglary charge was filed because the students admitted propping open a door to access the roof, according to police and a criminal affidavit. The vandalism charge was filed as a felony because the cost of the cleanup would be more than $500.

The police report states that five other students participated in the papering spree. Only Marshall and Hancock face felony charges.

Marshall said he was surprised at the felony charges but said he heard that school district officials did not intend to prosecute. He said he would pay the cleanup costs and that he wouldn't mind having to perform manual labor.

''But it must be a pretty safe town if toilet paper throwers is the number-one prospect,'' Marshall said. ''There were about 15 police cars in front of Hillsboro High School for about two hours, just for some toilet paper. It seems like there are better things to do out there. I'm surprised it caused this much controversy here.''

Other Hillsboro seniors interviewed on campus yesterday also expressed surprise.

''It was just a typical senior prank, and it turned out bad,'' said Ezzard Dobbins, 18, who said he woke up to the news of the arrests. ''It was an innocent prank and nobody was injured. It was simple to clean up. They do not deserve a felony.''
The students who were arrested are viewed as campus leaders, said senior Justin Merritt, 17, and they should have used better judgment.

''This is supposed to be one of the best times of your life, and the main thing to think about is at the end of the year — stay out of trouble,'' Merritt said.

Metro officers arrived after reports of a disturbance, said Metro police spokesman Don Aaron. They saw students on the front lawn, and students scattered when the officers arrived, Aaron said.

An officer went to the roof and brought Hancock and Marshall down. The two students were arrested and taken to Night Court.

Caldwell and officers discussed the incident, and all of them decided that Caldwell, rather than the police, would seek a criminal summons from a night court commissioner, Aaron said.

Aaron said the school district's decision not to pursue the criminal charges was not a police matter. ''It's the police department's responsibility to bring persons responsible for violating the law into the system,'' Aaron said. ''What happens from there in many situations is out of our control.''

Christian Bottorff can be reached at 726-8904 or cbottorff@tennessean.com.

--------------------------------

And, in case you didn't know, a felony is punishable by a minimum of one year in prison.

What utter bull****
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Old 05-08-2004   #2
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thats sux..lool
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Old 05-08-2004   #3
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kinda stupid......
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Old 05-09-2004   #4
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...what they said ^^
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Old 05-09-2004   #5
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yeah that was really stupid
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