The fourth and final Howard County teen charged with hate crimes after spray-painting racial epithets and swastikas at Glenelg High School last May is being recommended to serve weekends in jail under a plea deal announced Wednesday.
Matthew Lipp, 18, of Woodbine, pleaded not guilty to a hate crime charge, but agreed to the statement of facts prosecutors presented in Howard County Circuit Court. Administrative Judge William V. Tucker found him guilty.
Lipp was dressed in all black — a hoodie, shorts, socks and shoes — when he took spray paint to the school and wrote slurs targeting several minority groups, according to the statements of facts. Lipp’s attorney, Brian Thompson, said his client was intoxicated at time of the incident.
Under a plea agreement, prosecutors are recommending Lipp serve 16 weekends at the Howard County Detention Center. He would also receive supervised probation, be required to attend cultural awareness or sensitivity training, and perform 150 hours of community service.
Thompson said Lipp has already completed 75 of his 150 recommended hours of community service, with 50 hours being served at an African-American church.
The deal also requires Lipp to pay court costs, fines and restitution to the school system.
In December, Lipp filed a motion to dismiss the hate crime charges but was denied.
Thompson said in court that they “do intend to appeal this” to the state appeals courts on the basis that the spray painted language is constitutionally protected free speech.
After court, Thompson said they “respectfully disagree with the court’s decision [and are] certainly not suggesting [Lipp] didn’t violate the law.”
Sentencing is scheduled for April 4, the same day as Tyler Curtiss, 18, of Brookeville, who was also charged in the graffiti incident. All four teens were charged with the same seven counts, including three hate crime charges.
Curtiss, who also filed a motion to dismiss the hate crime charges and was denied, accepted a similar plea deal last month, and prosecutors recommended he serve nine weekends in jail.
In December, Joshua Shaffer of Mount Airy and Seth Taylor of Glenwood, both 19, accepted plea offers in connection with the graffiti incident. Shaffer — who prosecutors said wrote a racial epithet targeting Glenelg’s principal, who is black — is recommended to serve 18 weekends in jail. Prosecutors are recommending for Taylor, who spray-painted “KKK” and swastikas on school property, to serve nine weekends in jail. The two are scheduled to be sentenced in March.
The four face similar additional penalties, the only difference being their recommended jail time. They will each serve their sentence one weekend a month and none will serve their jail time on the same weekends.
On May 23 at about 11:30 p.m. the four teens wore hoods and masks as they spray-painted swastikas and racial epithets on school property, prosecutors say. The following morning, damage estimated at more than $2,000 was found at the school’s main entrance, the stadium press box, an area near the tennis courts, trash cans, bleachers, exterior walls and other locations.
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Lipp, who was not at school the following morning, was transported to central booking from his home and agreed to speak with police, according to prosecutors.
Lipp said he and the other three teens took spray cans from his garage and planned “to go to Glenelg High to commit a senior prank,” according to the statement of facts. Lipp said he threw the spray cans in the woods near the school.
Prosecutors read off several racial slurs and foul language Lipp participated in writing against African-Americans, gay people and Jewish people.
When questioned, Lipp said he “also wrote something about Jews but forgot what is was,” as reported in the statement of facts. Lipp was also said to have drawn male genitalia.
“Lipp is not a racist,” Thompson said after court. “He got drunk one night and did something terribly stupid.
“With the state charging it as a hate crime … guarantees it will follow them [all four teens] the rest of their lives,” Thompson said.
The four graduated from Glenelg High School but did not walk in the ceremony, according to a county schools spokesman. They fulfilled all graduation requirements prior to the incident.