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Graffiti suspects identified, charged

Two juvenile suspects were charged with felony malicious mischief after a photo published in local newspapers prompted a rash of calls identifying two graffiti artists caught on tape at a local elementary school earlier this month.

Pictures of the suspects were obtained when a surveillance camera — placed at East Port Orchard Elementary School following several incidents of vandalism last month — captured two young males spray painting a marijuana leaf on a school wall Aug. 14.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor for Kitsap County’s Juvenile Division Greg Hubbard said the teens’ crimes were considered malicious mischief in the second degree — a class-C felony — because the damage was more than $250.

A South Kitsap School District employee estimated the cost of repainting and other repairs at $633.39.

The pair were scheduled for a sentencing hearing Monday afternoon.

Hubbard said the teens face up to a year’s probation, 24 to 32 hours of community service and five to 10 days in jail. However, under the law they can receive as many as 150 hours of community service and 30 days in local detention.

Hubbard said this is the second offense for one of the teens, who was charged with throwing eggs at a school bus within the last two months.

As of Monday, both were enrolled in South Kitsap High School.

Once the picture of the suspects was published, the Sheriff’s Office received numerous phone calls naming the same 16-year-old Port Orchard resident again and again as the clearly identified subject in the photo, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Scott Wilson.

Wilson said callers also named another 16-year-old teen as the first suspect’s roommate.

A sheriff’s deputy then contacted the teens at their residence. He spoke first with the teen named by callers, whom he noted resembled the suspect on the video.

After the deputy read him his rights, the teen admitted he and his roommate were at EPO the night of Aug. 14, but said a third teen was also there and he must have done the spray painting.

The deputy then spoke with the roommate. After being read his rights, he also agreed to speak with the deputy. The roommate also admitted to being at the school, but said he and the first teen did not vandalize it. When the deputy informed him that he had a videotape of him in action, the teen said he wanted to talk to a lawyer.

The deputy then placed him in custody, and talked to the first teen again.

When showed a picture from the surveillance camera, the teen admitted it was him in the photo and he and his roommate had in fact spray painted the school.

He admitted to painting a marijuana leaf on a shed and basketball courts near the school, but said his roommate painted the one in the photo.

He went on to say neither he nor his roommate were responsible for the various other drawings or obscenities that had been painted at the school previously— during four incidents in July and one in March — such as a Nazi symbol or numerous “4:20” references.

He went on to say that two other teens aged 16 to 18 that he did not know were also at the school that night, and those teens gave him and his roommate the paint.

The deputy then placed the first teen into custody and both were transferred to Juvenile Hall and booked.

Wilson said further suspects may be identified as the investigation continues.

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