An Alabama man was convicted of criminal littering and received a 30-day suspended prison sentence for placing boxes of flowers on the grave of his late fiancee.
Heartbroken Winston Hagans was found guilty in Auburn city court over the flowers he repeatedly left for Hannah Ford, who died in a car crash in January 2021.
A warrant in the case was signed by the Rev. Tom Ford, Hannah’s father who said he did not like the flowers or approve of his daughter’s relationship.
The court was told that Mr Hagans, who also goes by the name Winchester, had put 10 small planter boxes on the grave, and that Mr Ford had either thrown them away or returned them.
“The first box, when I saw where it was, I picked it up and it fell apart,” Mr Ford said. “It was a rotten piece of wood with some pictures on it, so I discarded it.”
The prosecution was brought under an Alabama law in which citizens can obtain arrest warrants in the state’s municipal court.
Mr Ford said that he had not approved of the couple’s relationship as his daughter had not told him about it personally and he had heard about it from others.
Municipal prosecutor Justin Clark said that at the city-owned cemetery, the rules banned any “benches, urns, boxes, shells, toys and other similar articles” on graves.
And city employee Sari Card said she had warned Mr Hagans and testified, “He said he didn’t care, that every time a box is removed he would make another one to replace it.”
Judge Jim McLaughlin convicted Hagans in a non-jury trial and ruled that it was “a clear case of violation of this deed and violation of littering statute.”
“The box does not occur naturally in nature. It is a foreign substance. Whether it’s pretty or not is not a consideration for this court,” he said.
Me Hagans was fined $50, ordered to pay $251 in court costs, and handed the suspended jail sentence as long as he does not leave any more flowers.
His lawyers indicated they would appeal the conviction to a circuit court where it could be heard by a jury.