By Ed Brock
The seven Jonesboro High School graduates who are suspected of vandalizing the school as a prank have submitted a written apology and $5,000 in restitution to the superintendent of schools.
An attorney for one of the suspects dropped off the letter and money at Clayton County Public Schools headquarters in Jonesboro Tuesday morning, a day before the seven suspects are due in court for a hearing to determine if they will be charged in the case.
Patrick Saxby, Joshua Hyaduck, Rocky Lee, Daniel Cazenave, Micah Dale, Jonathan Rosenburg and William Boso all signed the letter in which they say the "bad choices" they made on the night of May 23 "went far beyond our original intent as a senior prank."
"What began as a senior prank has jeopardized our immediate and possibly our entire futures," the seven wrote in the letter. "This is a consequence which we know is of our making."
On that night somebody painted graffiti on the walls, damaged school property and left dead animals in the cafeteria and, according to school officials, the incident caused $7,000 in damage.
Attorney Steve Frey, who represents Saxby, said he dropped off the letter, addressed to Clayton County Superintendent of Schools Barbara Pulliam, and the $5,000 in checks with a receptionist at the school board building. The letter and money were sent to Pulliam's secretary, Clayton County Public Schools Spokesman Charles White said, and Pulliam received the envelope at 5:50 p.m.
White also released this statement from the school system.
"Until today, one day before Chief Magistrate Judge Daphne Walker is scheduled to conduct a hearing regarding this issue, (Pulliam) has had no formal contact with the students in question, their parents or any legal representatives of these students."
Pulliam acknowledged receiving the letter and said she would share the contents with the principal of Jonesboro High School. She then declined any further statement since the matter is still being adjudicated.
After 10 youths were arrested in connection with another senior prank at Mt. Zion High school officials told prosecutors that they didn't think the 10 should be prosecuted because there was no damage done to the school. Clayton County District Attorney Jewel Scott, Solicitor General Leslie Miller Terry and Walker then dropped the charges against them.
Clayton County police went to Walker last week seeking warrants to arrest the seven on misdemeanor criminal trespass charges but Walker denied their request and instead set the date for a hearing. All seven suspects and their attorneys are scheduled to be in Walker's courtroom at 8 a.m. today to determine if warrants will be issued.
Saxby, who is an appointee for the Army's Military Academy at West Point, apologized publicly last week for his role in the vandalism. On Tuesday Saxby also met with U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Georgia, to discuss ways of keeping his appointment to the academy from which the Army draws its elite officers.
Scott, who had previously said he would not withdraw his support for Saxby, called the academy directly on Tuesday to voice that support.
Also, Saxby's parents said previously that they had apologized to school officials, and Keith Martin, attorney for Lee, Hyaduck, Cazenave and Rosenburg, said his clients' parents had also apologized.
The $5,000 restitution was "just the right thing to do," Martin said. Though it was not the total $7,000 originally claimed by the school system Martin said the $5,000 was all the seven suspects and their parents could raise at this time.
"That's five sevenths of an initial estimate," Martin said.
Also, they had heard different estimates of the damage from different government officials.
Though they don't have scholarships that may be threatened by the possibility of criminal charges, Martin said all four of his clients were college bound and "have a good deal to loose."
"We don't want anything where somebody can come back and say we're not interested," Martin said. Two of his clients are interested in entering law enforcement, Martin added.