|By Sam Inglot|
Local artist follows through on plan to plead guilty to felony charge related to Capitol graffiti incident
Monday, Nov. 5 — The young local artist who spray-painted the Capitol and a nearby war memorial could face up to three months in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.
It was discovered on the morning of Sept. 6 that someone had spray painted stick figures on two pillars of the Capitol Building along with the words, “Give art a chance” on a war memorial on the capital grounds.
Jeffery Scott Handley Jr., 20, pleaded guilty to the crime Wednesday in front of Circuit Court Judge Paula Manderfield. He was charged with one felony count of malicious destruction of tombs and memorials. The other two misdemeanors for defacing public property were dropped, Handley’s attorney Denise Hairston said.
Handley has said he that he planned to plead guilty since his arrest related to the incident.
The felony could land Handley, who also goes by the name Geoph Aldora Espen, in jail for up to three months, she said. Along with jail time, Handley faces a monetary fine of either three times the amount of property damage, or $10,000 — whichever is greater.
His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 5 at 8:30 a.m.
Hairston said she plans on filing a Holmes Youthful Trainee Act petition on Handley’s behalf. If Manderfield accepts the petition, Handley could still serve time but the crime would not appear on his record. The HYTA is designed for youthful offenders between the ages of 17 and 21 who plead guilty to their crime.
“First of all, he’s never been in trouble before,” Hairston said. “Secondly, he’s remorseful. The statute was made to help young adults who make stupid mistakes. He still has a successful life he could live. Having a felony on your record hurts a lot of individuals.”