Two Arlington teens get probation in anti-gay graffiti case

Posted Friday, Jan. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH - Two of five teens pleaded guilty on Friday to painting offensive anti-homosexual and racial 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. The plea deal means that at the end of three years, if both defendants have complied with the terms and conditions of their probation, they will not have a conviction on their record, state District Judge Mollee Westfall explained.

The graffiti causing $1,500 to $20,000 damage charge is a state jail felony. Westfall said if these two teens fail to comply with the terms of their probation, they can still face up to two years in a state jail facility. Both teens declined to comment concerning the incident or the plea arrangement.

Hatcher and Aubuchon have to each pay $300 in fines and more than $6,400 in restitution, serve 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 also must testify truthfully regarding the actions of their co-defendants in any trial that might arise from a June 10 incident that angered several Arlington residents whose vehicles and homes were defaced.

Aubuchon's attorney, William Brian Goza, said after the pleading that he believes his client reached a fair and equitable settlement with the state, that she has taken responsibility and wants to do everything that she can 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."

Authorities were able to arrest the two defendants and three other suspects because some of the residences were equipped with surveillance cameras that captured clear images of people painting the graffiti, said Betty Arvin, assistant district attorney.

The incidents occurred in close proximity and when approached by police some of the suspects admitted doing what the cameras depicted, Arvin said. The same images and words were repeated at different locations and even the same color paints were used, Arvin said.

"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."

Grand jurors returned the indictments of graffiti causing $1,500 to $20,000 against John Austin Cartwright, 17, of Arlington; Daniel Damian Sibley, 18, of Forth Worth; Hatcher and Aubuchon in connection with the June 10 incident. A juvenile who was 16-years-old at the time also faced court action in connection with the incident.

The June 10 case involved at least 13 criminal mischief incidents near the 1100 block of Crowley Road.

This story includes material from the Star-Telegram archives

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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