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Cuero Christmas in the Park vandals get seven years probation

By Sonny Long
March 18, 2010 at 4:03 p.m.
Updated March 18, 2010 at 10:19 p.m.


CHRISTMAS IN THE PARK RESTITUTION BREAKDOWN

The plea agreement between the state of Texas and defendants Shane Torres and Scott Rogers included $61,149.69 in restitution. The payments will be broken down as follows (rounded):

$5,435 - December Events Committee for display replacement

$2,500 - City of Cuero insurance deductible

$492 - City of Cuero overtime pay and other expenses for cleanup

$52,722 - Texas Municipal League insurance claim

SOURCE: DeWitt County District Attorney's Office

CUERO - Two Cuero teenagers who vandalized Cuero's Christmas in the Park holiday displays in November received seven years deferred adjudication probation on Thursday.

District Judge Skipper Koetter accepted a plea agreement between the state and Shane Torres and Scott Rogers, both 17 at the time of the incident.

The plea agreement also includes a $500 fine and 400 hours community service each. They are to pay a total of $61,149.69 restitution.

Torres and Rogers were also each sentenced to 50 days in jail with credit for time served. Rogers spent 17 days in jail and Torres spent 13 before posting bail. The additional jail time can be served during weekends and must be completed by Dec. 1.

DeWitt County District Attorney Michael Sheppard said he thinks the plea sends a message.

"This kind of conduct carries a heavy price tag," Sheppard said. "At the same time this sentence will allow these defendants, if they choose, to rehabilitate and become contributing members of society."

Cuero city manager Raymie Zella and about a half dozen members of the December Events Committee, that has put on the annual holiday display for 10 years, attended the hearing.

The district attorney said he consulted with committee members about the terms of the plea.

W.L. "Buzz" Edge, who chairs the committee, made a victims' impact statement directly addressing Torres and Rogers.

Edge told the teens that the volunteers who set up the displays range in age from 64 to 78.

"I hope y'all understand what you did to us," Edge said. "If you had been at the park that Sunday morning you would have seen grown men crying."

"We do this for Cuero and for the surrounding communities," said Edge. "The positive comments we get are our reward. We hoped you've learned a very hard lesson. Time heals. Our committee hopes y'all have learned your lesson and hope you'll come back and become good citizens."

The lights and other holiday displays, open from the Monday before Thanksgiving through New Year's Day night, attracted 13,200 vehicles last year.

A DeWitt County grand jury indicted both men for criminal mischief, a third degree felony that carries a penalty range of two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

If the deferred adjudication is successfully served, neither will have a felony conviction on his record.

Assistant District Attorney Ray Hardy represented the state during the hearing.

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