Alexander Jerich, who was videotaped burning out his truck over the newly installed Pride intersection in Delray Beach last June, pleaded guilty to the felony crime in court Tuesday morning.
A sentencing date is expected to be scheduled in the next two months.
"By pleading guilty, Jerich has avoided a very public trial for the hate crime he committed," Rand Hoch, the president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) and a retired judge, said in an email statement. "It would have been impossible for Jerich to avoid being found guilty in light of the video that captured his crime."
The guilty plea comes after almost a year of back and forth with the court system. Feb. 11 was originally scheduled to be a trial date, but Jerich retained a new attorney, Robert Pasch, who instead requested the plea hearing.
Jerich, 22, is accused of burning out his truck over the intersection during a birthday celebration caravan for former President Donald Trump just days after the intersection was dedicated in June 2021. A video was posted to social media of the burnout, and a witness from the caravan came forward to report the incident to the Delray Beach Police Department.
Jerich was arrested on June 17 and charged with criminal mischief over $1,000, reckless driving and evidence of prejudice (felony enhancement). However, in August, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg dropped the hate crime charge. He explained in a press conference that the case did not meet one of the requirements of the law to move forward with a hate crime — he explained that the victim was from the city of Delray Beach, which does not have a sexual orientation or gender identity.
The office also looked into charging Jerich under Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new Combating Public Disorder statute, but Aronberg said that the case did not meet the requirement of the memorial honoring or recounting “the past or public service of a Florida or United States resident.”
In October, days after the original trial date was set, Jerich was pulled over for driving 87 miles per hour in a 40-mile-per-hour zone. He paid $356 in fines and court fees and is also required to take a defensive driving course.