Another Howard County teen could serve weekends in jail under a plea deal reached Monday over graffiti found last May at Glenelg High School that included swastikas and racial epithets.
Tyler Curtiss, 18, of Brookeville pleaded not guilty to the hate crime charge, but agreed to the statement of facts presented by prosecutors in Howard County Circuit Court. He was found guilty by Administrative Judge William V. Tucker.
Under a plea agreement, Curtiss is being recommended to serve nine weekends at the Howard County Detention Center. He would also receive supervised probation, perform 150 hours of community service and be required to attend cultural awareness or sensitivity training.
The deal also stipulates Curtiss pay fines, court costs and restitution to the school system.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 4.
Last month two other former students, Joshua Shaffer of Mount Airy and Seth Taylor of Glenwood, both 19, accepted similar plea deals.
The state’s attorney office recommended that Shaffer, who prosecutors said wrote a racial epithet targeting Glenelg’s principal, who is black, serve 18 weekends in jail. Taylor, who allegedly spray painted “KKK” and swastikas on school property, is facing nine weekends in jail. The two also face additional penalties similar to Curtiss. Shaffer and Taylor are scheduled to be sentenced in March.
Stipulations include that the sentence be served one weekend a month and that the three are not to serve their jail time on the same weekends, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Melissa Montgomery.
Prosecutors allege Curtiss, Shaffer, Taylor and a fourth teen, Matthew Lipp, 18, of Woodbine, wore hoods and masks and spray painted swastikas and racial epithets on school property at about 11:30 p.m. May 23. The following morning, damage estimated at more than $2,000 was found at the school’s main entrance, the stadium press box, bleachers, exterior walls, an area near the tennis courts and other locations.
Police said video surveillance and other means were used to identify the four teens as suspects, and they were charged with seven-count indictments, all misdemeanors. Each was charged with a hate crime as well as counts related to destruction of property and trespassing. In total, they faced three years in jail a fine of $5,000 on the most serious charges.
Lipp is scheduled to face trial next month.
According to the statement of facts in Curtiss’ case, he initially denied any involvement when questioned — and even wished the school resource officer good luck in finding whoever did it. Prosecutors said after later admitting fault, Curtiss told investigators “we thought it was a good prank,” but “regretted it a soon as we left. … I didn’t believe in what was written out there.”
In the courtroom Monday, judge Tucker told Curtiss: “I can guarantee to you… this is no prank.”
Mark Muffoletto, Curtiss’ attorney, said outside the courtroom that “from the beginning, my client’s intent [was] taking responsibility for his actions… to prove this act does not define who he is.”
Muffoletto said his client’s acceptance of the plea deal is “in essence a guilty plea” and was made to preserve options for a potential appeal.
In December, Curtiss and Lipp had appeared in court after their attorneys filed a separate motion to dismiss the hate crime charges. That request was denied.
All four teens graduated from Glenelg High School but did not walk in the graduation ceremony, according to a county schools spokesman. The four had fulfilled all graduation requirements prior to the incident.