Church vandal gets probation and community service
MINDEN – A 19-year-old Gardnerville man who has “made a complete turnaround” since he was arrested for vandalizing six Carson Valley churches was sentenced Monday to four years probation.
District Judge Michael Gibbons suspended two years in Douglas County Jail for Jonathon Walker and ordered him to complete 200 hours of community service.
Walker is responsible with three juvenile co-defendants for $7,000 restitution.
The four teenagers admitted using black spray paint to write obscenities and satanic references to “666,” and draw upside-down crosses on the churches early June 6.
Damage was discovered at Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Gall Catholic Church and Carson Valley United Methodist Church in Gardnerville, Day Springs Christian Assembly on Tillman Lane in the Gardnerville Ranchos and Hilltop Community Church and Shepherd of the Sierra Church in northern Douglas County.
He already served 22 days in jail and 35 days on house arrest following his arrest June 7.
Walker described the vandalism as a prank that went to far.
“I will do anything in my power to make restitution,” he told Gibbons.
“This is not what my life should be,” he said. “I need to be a good, responsible citizen of this town.”
Walker sent apologies to the six churches and wrote a letter to the community that was published July 14 in The Record-Courier.
None of the churches sent representatives to the sentencing.
“Basically, we allowed the legal system to take its course,” said Vicar Norm Milz of Shepherd of the Sierra. “We just continued to pray for this young man and his accomplices and that’s what we prefer to do.”
Gibbons said he was moved by a letter written by Archie Walker, the defendant’s father.
“His father contacted law enforcement, and that led to a break in the case. He said his son’s actions were a surprise and that he has made a complete turnaround and regained his faith and the support of church members,” Gibbons said.
The Walkers attend Trinity Lutheran Church.
Jonathan Walker’s lawyer, Tom Gregory, said his client had “some growing up to do.”
“He describes his conduct as a prank that had just gone too far. Unfortunately, it was a criminal prank,” Gregory said.
“He’s been subject to ridicule in the community – and rightly so – through media reports,” he said.
Gregory said Walker accepted full responsibility for his actions and made no excuses.
Following his release from jail, Walker moved in with his family, enrolled at Western Nevada Community College and found employment with a company that manufactures wheelchairs.
He had no prior record.
“The court believes you have demonstrated a sincere conviction to put your life in the right direction and to make sure nothing like this ever happens again,” Gibbons said.
If Walker violates his probation, he faces two years in Douglas County Jail.
“I think you recognize this was a pretty outrageous crime and that if affected lots of people,” Gibbons said.
Prosecutor Mike McCormick called the vandalism “a crime against this community and its citizens that was just reprehensible.”
He credited Walker with assisting law enforcement and enrolling in school.
“We’ll see if the (suspended) jail sentence is sufficient impetus to keep Mr. Walker on the straight and narrow,” McCormick said.
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