Saturday, August 28, 1999

Jurors tour Miami center


Trial delayed for ex-students

BY STEVE KEMME
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OXFORD — Jurors in the trial of two black former Miami University students toured Miami's Center for Black Culture and Learning, where 55 racist and anti-gay fliers werehung Oct. 30.

        But a medical emergency in the family of one of the defendants accused of posting the fliers kept him from appearing at Butler County Area I Court on Friday, cutting short the fourth day of their trial.

        Judge Rob Lyons sent the jury home Friday morning after their tour.

        Brad M. Allen was unable to come to court because of a family medical emergency in the Cleveland area, where he lives, the judge said.

        Mr. Allen, 21, and Nathaniel Snow, 22, of College Hill have pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal mischief and criminal trespassing.

        If convicted, each could be sentenced to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.

        Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Giuliano will resume presenting his case Monday morning. De fense attorneys Kenneth Lawson and Jay Clark said they don't know if they will call witnesses.

        Judge Lyons said he expects the trial to continue at least through Tuesday.

        Discovery of the fliers and racist messages on four computer screens in the Center for Black Culture and Learning sparked a Nov. 10 protest by 100 students, including Mr. Allen. Students joined arms and stopped traffic at U.S. 27 and Ohio 73.

        Mr. Giuliano said in court this week that Mr. Snow and Mr. Allen perpetuated a “hate-crime hoax,” and should be con victed of criminal mischief and criminal trespassing.

        The two men were linked to the incident when authorities found that their fingerprints matched 42 out of 44 on the fliers, he said.

        The defense attorneys said the fingerprints don't prove their clients hung the fliers. Even if they did, that act is protected by the right to freedom of speech, they argued.

        According to state statutes, criminal mischief occurs when someone “moves, defaces, damages, destroys or improperly tampers with the property of another.”

        Defense attorneys say there was no criminal mischief because nothing in the center was damaged. The fliers were hung on the walls with tape and on the bulletin board with pins. A Miami official and two former employees at the center have testified that nothing was damaged.

        Criminal trespassing occurs when someone “without privilege” knowingly enters or remains on the property of another, according to state law.

        The fliers were posted in the center after it closed for the day around 5:30 p.m., according to trial testimony.

        The defense says Mr. Snow and Mr. Allen were students at the time who did not violate any center policy by being there after hours. Two former center employees said undergraduate students were routinely allowed to be in the center after hours, even if an official or a graduate assistant was not there.

        After the Oct. 30 incident, the policy prohibited any students from being in the center after hours unless Syd Carthell, assistant director of affirmative action and minority affairs, gave permission and a graduate assistant was present.

        Mr. Giuliano has contended Mr. Snow and Mr. Allen had no legal right to be in the center after hours.

       



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