The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office has postponed its Sept. 13 plea meeting with Alexander Jerich, who is accused of defacing the pride intersection in Delray Beach.
A new date has not been set, but Richard Clausi, the chief of the office’s misdemeanor division, tells SFGN he thinks it will be another month before they meet.
“We're just moving it for a month so I can reach out individually to all of the parties that were involved primarily with the dedication,” he explained. “How it affected them, what they think would be an appropriate punishment. While it's not binding on the state, we want to get everybody’s input.”
Jerich, 21, was arrested on June 17 days after he was recorded burning out his truck tires over the newly dedicated pride intersection in downtown Delray Beach. He was a part of a birthday caravan for former President Donald Trump when someone allegedly yelled at him to “tear up that gay intersection.” A member of the caravan, who said he is gay, came forward to police because he believed what happened was wrong.
The report from the Delray Beach Police Department states that the cost of street space was $16,720. The city’s Public Works Department is working with the vendor to have the intersection repainted, which is expected to cost several thousand dollars, Gina Carter, the public information officer for Delray Beach, told SFGN in July.
Clausi told SFGN that Jerich’s lawyer, Pedro Dijols, told him that his client “demonstrated willingness and an ability to pay the restitution to get the sidewalk back up to where it should be.”
The restitution is a minimum of $8,000.
“We'll at least have a better idea of what the plea offer is in 30 days and what, if anything, the defendant wants to do with it,” he said.
The Delray police originally charged Jerich with criminal mischief over $1,000, reckless driving and evidence of prejudice (felony enhancement). However, in August, State Attorney Dave Aronberg dropped the hate crime charge, saying in a press conference that the victim in this case was the city of Delray Beach, which does not have a sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council denounced the decision in a statement.
"Although I was not surprised that State Attorney Dave Aronberg shied away from charging Alexander Jerich under the new Combating Public Disorder Act, I was shocked that he refused to seek enhanced penalties under Florida's hate crimes law,” wrote Rand Hoch, the president of the PBCHRC. “If surveillance cameras caught someone carving anti-Semitic slurs in the sidewalk in front of a store owned by a Jewish person in Delray Beach, don't you think State Attorney Aronberg would charge the person with a hate crime?”