Before being taken out of the Howard County Circuit Courtroom in handcuffs Thursday afternoon, Tyler Curtiss handed his cellphone and wallet to his mother and Matthew Lipp’s phone was passed to his mother.
The two teens, former Glenelg High School students, showed no emotion as they were sentenced to separate consecutive weekends in the Howard County Detention Center for a hate crime charge related to graffiti found at the high school that included racial epithets and swastikas.
Lipp, 19, of Woodbine, and Curtiss, 18, of Brookeville, received three-year sentences that were suspended to weekends in jail. Lipp received 16 consecutive weekends, while Curtiss received eight consecutive weekends.
Administrative Judge William V. Tucker took a short recess before sentencing the teens to review materials from their attorneys. Both had faced potential three-year sentences.
“You’re both going to jail today,” Tucker said in court Thursday. “Your weekend begins now.”
For Curtiss, that means celebrating his birthday from a jail cell. He turns 19 on Friday.
During this first weekend, Curtiss and Lipp will be released from the county detention center Saturday evening at 6 p.m. The remainder of their sentences will be served starting at 6 p.m. Fridays to 6 p.m. Sundays, a 48-hour period over three days.
The two had separately pleaded not guilty to the hate crime charge, but agreed to the statement of facts presented by prosecutors. They also filed separate motions in December to dismiss the hate crime charges which were denied by a judge.
Brian Thompson, Lipp’s attorney, said he intended to file an appeal with the state Court of Appeals by close of business Thursday.
Thompson said the act was an “incredibly stupid thing to do, something I know Mr. Lipp deeply regrets.”
Mark Muffoletto, Curtiss’ attorney, said he will speak with his client before determining whether or not to go forward with filing an appeal.
“This was not a hate crime, it was a hurt crime,” Muffoletto said.
On May 23, the four teens — Glenelg seniors at the time — spray-painted more than 50 symbols, words and sayings on all corners of the school grounds. Those areas included the main entrance, near the tennis courts, the stadium press box, bleachers, sidewalks and other locations, prosecutors previously said.
Lipp spray-painted phrases that targeted protected classes of people, while Curtiss, among other things, drew “a massive swastika” in the parking lot, according to prosecutors.
Curtiss read a prepared letter before Tucker, saying, “Not a day goes by that I don’t feel regret and remorse … I consider those days [initially following the incident] to be the darkest days of my life.”
Lipp briefly addressed the courtroom Thursday, saying, “I deeply regret my actions and I know I will learn from everything over the past year.”
Both teens extended apologies to Glenelg High Principal David Burton who was in the courtroom. A racial epithet found on the school’s grounds was directed at Burton.
“I know that he is a great man … [and] that he is a good person for Glenelg [High] to have and bring them in the right direction,” Lipp said.
Burton, as he was with the other two sentencings, addressed the courtroom to recount what transpired the morning of May 24 when the graffiti was found, citing that many faculty, students and staff were upset.
Curtiss, who initially denied involvement, made one statement during questioning that made Burton feel a “little disturbed.”
Curtiss, who admitted to using the spray paint found all over the school, said, “All I did was the swastikas and penises,” Burton recalled.
Burton said Lipp never reached out to him to apologize; Thompson later said he had advised his client to not talk about the case.
“I was bothered by the fact that even to this day, he has not apologized … I hope he has learned something,” Burton said about Lipp.
Tucker also sentenced the two teens each to 250 hours of community service to be completed one year from April 1, three years of supervised probation to begin April 8, to submit to any drug and alcohol testing, and to abstain from alcohol, illegal substances and the abuse of prescription drugs.
Curtiss has completed nearly 150 community services hours, while Lipp has recorded 60 hours.
“I get the fact you don’t want this to define you for the rest of your lives,” Tucker said. “I expect you all to continue to do the things you are doing to put it behind you.”
At this time, Tucker denied both attorneys’ requests of probation before judgement, meaning that a judge does not enter a guilty finding.
Joshua Shaffer, of Mount Airy, and Seth Taylor, of Glenwood, both 19, were sentenced separately last month.
Shaffer, who prosecutors say wrote the racial epithet targeting Burton, was sentenced to 18 consecutive weekends in jail. Taylor was sentenced to nine consecutive weekends after prosecutors said he used green spray paint and scrawled “KKK” and swastikas on the school’s property.
Both began their sentences after their hearings.
The Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office held a press conference immediately following the final two teens’ hearings.
“This was not just a simple prank … this was something that was 50 separate acts of hate, you have anti-Semitic graffiti, you have racist graffiti, racist graffiti that targeted Principal Burton by name, you have homophobic references that were made. This is an act of violence that rips the fabric of our community,” State’s Attorney Rich Gibson said.
“I’m happy we are getting some closure out of this,” Burton said during the press conference. “Hopefully now we can start to heal.”