Case Ends In Pleas For SF State Students
May 18, 2005 12:22 AM
Prosecutors dropped burglary charges for five SF State students, including a photojournalist who was evicted from the dorms for photographing the alleged burglary, after the students entered a civil compromise plea.
The plea settled the case on May 17, awarding about $2,000 in restitution to Karimah Arnold, who's Ford Mustang was burglarized on Oct. 24. A civil compromise does not mean the defendants are accepting responsibility, however, they have agreed to pay for damages in order for charges to be dropped.
Last year, [X]press editors gave Omar Vega, an SF State photojournalist student, a semester-long assignment to document life in freshmen dorms. Vega took pictures of four SF State students, Blake Street, Nicole Dion, Steven Stodola and John Macrery, after they allegedly found a set of car keys and located the Ford Mustang, broke in, and stole money and CDs.
Street was scheduled to appear but did not arrive at the hearing. Macrery, also scheduled to appear at the hearing, did not arrive due to a calendar coordination mistake.
David Simerly, Vega's attorney, said a bench warrant would not issued to the defendants who did not appear in court because a civil compromise was already in place.
Although all charges have been dropped for all five defendants, each will have to pay $355 for damages to the vehicle.
Another court date is set for May 26, when the five defendants' attorneys will make an appearance in court on their behalf to finalize all payments as well as to ensure all charges are dismissed.
Toby Vega, Omar's father, spoke on behalf of his son regarding the incident.
“Omar is not guilty,” said Toby. “He just wants this to go away so he can go on with the rest of his life.”
Vega said he is happy that the case is over.
“Now I am free to take pictures, which is what I love most,” said Vega.
Vega said he is thankful for the support of the professors in his department.
“The support within the journalism department has been great,” said Vega. “They truly supported me all the way.
“(Department chair John) Burks took the initiative to write letters to housing on my behalf," continued Vega. " And we discussed the issues step-by-step and how to get the administration to not punish me.”
Vega said because of the case, SF State dorms are making changes to some of their policies.
“(Housing) has never had anything written, but because of this case and Burks's input, they are making fundamental changes in their regulations," Vega said. "The dorms are a fundamental part of the campus and should be accessed by any journalist doing a legitimate story.”
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University