Friday, July 18, 2003

Mason grad acquitted of role in prank

Rabbit, peacock died in theft

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - The fourth Mason High School grad accused of being involved in a senior prank that left a peacock and rabbit dead was acquitted Thursday of theft and trespassing charges.

Jennifer Ball, 18, was the only teen so far to take her case to trial in Mason Municipal Court. A jury deliberated about a half hour before deciding she was not guilty.

Ball had faced up to seven months in jail. Three other grads charged were sent to jail for a week, fined $500 and placed on probation until their 21st birthdays after pleading guilty to similar charges.

Some also were ordered to pay restitution to Deerfield Township farmer Timothy Branham, whose peacocks and rabbits were stolen. One more teen is scheduled for trial on Tuesday.

Sheriff's officials said the group came up with the plan to steal the animals and release them at the school while they attended a beer party June 2 at Ball's house. The officials accused Ball of taking the other teens to the Branhams' nearby property.

The five students were arrested after the animals were released at the school the following day.

The peacock had to be euthanized after it was found in a car in the school parking lot, soaked with beer, its legs broken and tied with a cable. The rabbit died in its cage after being scared during the theft, Branham said.


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