A judge handed down an unusual sentence to the man found guilty of leaving tire marks on a rainbow mural in South Florida.
Circuit Judge Scott Suskauer ordered Alexander Jerich, 20, to write a 25-page essay on the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting.
Jerich was arrested after a video captured him tearing through the rainbow-painted intersection in his truck in June 2021, and leaving black streaks across the mural. The mural had been unveiled only days earlier in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Judge Suskauer sentenced Jerich to research the 49 people who were killed and then write a 25-page essay including what motivates people who cause such tragedies. He was also ordered to pay a $2,003 fine.
“I want your own brief summary of why people are so hateful and why people lash out against the gay community,” the judge told him.
The FBI found no evidence that the shooter had specifically targeted gay people. In a 911 call to police, the shooter pledged allegiance to the ISIS leader and did not cite gay people.
The judge declined to adjudicate the criminal felony charges against Jerich, which he said would have profound negative consequences on his life.
Jerich’s attorney compared him to a mentally challenged character from the novel “Of Mice and Men,” citing his struggle to fit in, and said he could not explain why he defaced the mural.
“I was expecting someone who displays complete disrespect for their fellow citizens. A person some might call a thug or a redneck,” Suskauer said of Jerich. “This was not what I was expecting.”
Prosecutors had asked for Suskauer to give Jerich 30 days in jail and five years of probation.
Rand Hoch, president of the Human Rights Council, requested that the judge ban Jerich from the intersection for life and wanted the incident to be prosecuted as a hate crime, which carries enhanced penalties.