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Student pleads no contest to artwork vandalism charge

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Todd LaRocca, one of two Stanford University students facing felony charges in connection with the vandalism earlier this year of the outdoor artwork Gay Liberation, pleaded no contest in municipal court Thursday, Sept. 29.

The other student facing felony charges in connection with the May 16 incident, Thomas Irwin, requested and was granted a continuance of his preliminary hearing. Judge Rose Jones Pichon set the new date for Friday, Oct. 14.

Irwin said he needed the extra time because he plans to retain a second attorney. Prosecutor Valerie Marchant, a deputy district attorney for Santa Clara County, objected to the continuance, pointing out that a number of witnesses were in court and prepared to testify during Irwin's preliminary hearing.

After meeting with the lawyers for both sides in chambers for several minutes, Pichon granted the defense request.

LaRocca's lawyer and Marchant told Pichon that they had agreed that LaRocca would change his plea from not guilty to no contest. They will recommend to the sentencing judge that he pay $5,000 in restitution, spend one year on probation, serve no jail time and perform 200 hours of community service - half of it on cleaning up graffiti.

LaRocca, a baseball player who has been signed by the Baltimore Orioles and is not taking classes at Stanford this quarter, will be formally sentenced Tuesday, Nov. 29, in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

Four other students face misdemeanor charges stemming from the vandalism of the outdoor artwork, which depicts two same-sex couples - two men standing, two women seated on an iron bench. In the early morning hours of May 16, black paint was poured on the figures and the bench was jammed between the two standing male figures.

The work was reinstalled Friday, Sept. 23, after repairs and restoration estimated at nearly $10,000.

The four facing misdemeanor charges are Mark Butterfield, a football player, baseball players Brian Dallimore and Robert Gardner, and football player Jason White. They pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to appear in court Oct. 11.

Dallimore was charged with misdemeanor vandalism; the other three face that charge as well as misdemeanor resisting arrest.


lid larocca-irwin prelim


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