Students get probation for littering cotton balls on campus

A judge sentenced two University of Missouri students to two years probation after they said they were sorry for spreading cotton balls on the MU Campus.

MU Senior Zachary Tucker, 21, and MU Freshman Sean Fitzgerald, 19, both received the same sentence for spreading cotton balls in front the MU Black Culture Center in late February. The two suspended MU Navy ROTC students were sentenced to two years of probation, their driver TMs licenses have been revoked for 60 days and they must work 80 hours of community service.

I do see how many people I have hurt," Fitzgerald told a judge. "I turned the community of Columbia upside down. I left a black mark on the campus.

Fitzgerald and Tucker were originally arrested for tampering, which could have carried a hate crime penalty. Instead, they faced a misdemeanor charge of littering. Victims testified during Fitzgerald and Tucker TMs sentencing hearing.

Without question, I can say we are satisfied with the fact that the victims were heard and the court considered the victims TM statements in regard to that resolution, Boone County Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Haigh said.

Fitzgerald and Tucker were also punished outside the courtroom by University Officials. They both must wait until this fall to return to class. They also had to have a closed door discussion with about 20 African-American representatives of different student organizations and professors who were upset over the cotton ball incident. Defense attorneys said the University TMs punishments made a difference.

I say yes," Defense Attorney Christopher Slusher said. "I think it has had an impact and they are truly sorry for what they did.

Defense attorneys said they were relieved that the sentencing hearing is behind them. Students at the MU Black Culture Center said this incident is far from being over. Some students said probation is not an acceptable punishment.

It TMs despicable,"MU Freshman Charlie Johnson said. "It makes the whole campus look bad, as a whole. It TMs not just them or just the Black Culture Center. Now, we TMll be known as that school that has people like that and gives away such minor punishments for crimes like this.

Fitzgerald and Tucker are scheduled to return to court on August 16 to verify their 80 hours of community service work.