January 24, 2005 -- Posted 6:15 p.m. CDT
Jonesboro, AR -- On Monday, Jonesboro's Chris Baugh pled guilty in circuit court to first degree criminal mischief for having run a bulldozer through a downtown Jonesboro skate park on August 24, 2004.
Initially considered a felony, the sentence was lowered to a misdemeanor as part of a plea agreement between Baugh, his attorney, and prosecuting attorney Brent Davis. Baugh's sentence includes: 1 year probation, pay over $12,000 in restitution, a $10,000 donation to the building of a new skate park, and 80 days of public service. In addition, Baugh must serve 2 weekends in jail, and make a public apology to the city of Jonesboro.
After months of silence, Chris Baugh is speaking out about his criminal activity.
"I'm sincerely sorry for the actions that I've taken," said Baugh. "You always need to keep your eye on the Lord, because without him, you end up doing things that aren't right."
Baugh, who owns property across from the skate park, has also worked as a broker. Had he been convicted of a felony, it could have jeopardized his career. Prosecuting attorney Brent Davis is defending the plea agreement, saying Baugh's profession and economic status did not contribute to his decision for a lesser sentence.
"If he was a poor man, he would still have to pay restitution, but it would be at $20 a month," said Davis. "Certainly he wanted to pay it out over time, but part of our insistence was that this money be paid immediately."
Davis said this is a win-win situation for everyone, because as part of his sentence, Baugh is vowing to help build an even better skate park.
"We are truly sorry for the people that this has affected," said Baugh.
"When I was called I knew that something positive would come out of this," said skate park committee member Aaron Richardson.
Now that the court proceedings are over, some are questioning what will happen to the downtown Jonesboro skate park. Davis said all parties would like to see it moved.
"I feel like there would be some sort of tension there," added Richardson.
When questioned whether Baugh has had input in the decision to possibly move the skate park, his attorney Paul Ford interjected, answered the question, and walked away.
"His preference would be to work with the community officials, and work with everyone for the benefit of the entire community," said attorney Paul Ford.