On Thursday, an Alabama man was convicted of littering for leaving a flower planter box at his fiancée’s gravesite in an ordeal that resulted in his arrest in January.
WTVM reported that Auburn Municipal Judge Jim McLaughlin fined Winston Hagans $50 for the littering offense and ordered him to pay $250 in court fines. Prosecutors pledged not to pursue a jail sentence if Hagans agreed not to place more planter boxes at his fiancée’s grave at Auburn’s Memorial Park Cemetery.
Hannah Ford, 27, died in a car crash on January 17, 2021, a month after getting engaged to Hagans. Hagans claimed his late fianceé preferred living flowers over cut flowers, so he left a handmade planter box at her grave.
Hagans reportedly asked the city if he was allowed to keep the planter box at the grave, and he was told they would not take any action unless the decedent’s family complained. However, the late woman’s father, Dr. Tom Ford, repeatedly removed the planter boxes before signing a warrant to have Hagans arrested for littering.
The Associated Press reported that citizens in Alabama can acquire arrest warrants in some municipalities under certain circumstances.
According to WTVM, Dr. Ford said the plot was initially owned by his brother-in-law. He claimed after the fourth planter box was placed without their permission, he took ownership of the grave and removed the planter boxes. A total of 10 boxes were reportedly left at the grave, some were returned to Hagans.
“The first box, when I saw where it was, I picked it up and it fell apart,” Dr. Ford testified, according to the Associated Press. “It was a rotten piece of wood with some pictures on it, so I discarded it.”
During testimony, Dr. Ford also stated that he did not approve of his daughter dating Hagans.
An administrative assistant with Auburn Parks and Recreation said she spoke with Hagans on the phone. At that time, she reportedly informed him that legal action would be taken if he did not stop leaving boxes at the grave site. The assistant said Hagans did not care and continued to make boxes to leave at his late fiancée’s plot, WTVM reported.
On January 4, Hagans was pulled over for an expired tag. It was then that he was arrested on an outstanding warrant for littering.
Hagans plans to appeal Thursday’s ruling.
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[Featured image: Winchester Hagans, Hannah Ford/Instagram]