Skip to comments.Snow fort builders facing prison time
Posted on 05/08/2005 7:04:09 AM PDT by Nachum
FRAMINGHAM -- Two Framingham High seniors arrested in January after they were ordered off high school property because they were building a snow fort were found guilty yesterday of trespassing.
Jenna Schroeder and Jason Osorio, both 18, now face a maximum of 30 days in jail after the two-day trial in Framingham District Court. The jury of three men and three women deliberated for about three hours before they reached a verdict.
Judge Douglas Stoddart will sentence the pair May 16. Although punishable by a maximum of 30 days in jail, according to Massachusetts General Law, an offender can also face a fine less than $100 and probation.
Neither Schroeder nor Osorio commented after the trial. Schroeder's attorney, Michael J. Heineman, also declined to comment. Osorio's lawyer, Melvin Norris, was not present during the verdict due to a hearing in federal court in Boston.
The pair were arrested Jan. 25 when police ordered them to leave the high school grounds while they were building a fort in a large pile of snow. The school was closed for the day due to the weather.
The teens claimed they were about to leave when they were arrested. Police said the pair were uncooperative and refused to leave after repeated requests.
During closing statements, both defense attorneys tried to convince the jury the arrests stemmed from the arresting officer, James Smith, getting angry at the "smart ass" teens.
Prosecutor Deb Bercovitch argued it was a clear-cut case -- two people told to leave the property who did not, so they were arrested.
Heineman questioned Smith's truthfulness in his closing statement.
"His credibility is something I'm going to ask you to look closely at," said Heineman. "Officer Smith tells a story that doesn't add up -- that doesn't make sense."
Heineman said Smith originally put a third teen, Edwin Snead, in his cruiser, but never arrested him. The lawyer said Smith grew angry at Schroeder when she asked first why Snead was put in the cruiser, and then asked for his name and badge number.
"Officer Smith never gave a reason -- why didn't he give a reason?" said Heineman. "Because being a smart ass is not a good answer. The evidence shows that Officer Smith was trying to bully and scare these kids."
He said Schroeder, Osorio and Snead were just having a fun day, building a snow fort in the large pile of snow. He said Schroeder's questioning of Smith led to the arrest.
"I would suggest the only crime Jenna broke that day, if it's a crime, is she stood up and asked a police officer his name and badge number," said Heineman. "She didn't cower. She didn't flee. She stood up for a friend. I would suggest the world needs more people like Jenna."
Norris, representing Osorio, said Smith had no right to arrest his client.
"Jason is a student at Framingham High School. Jason was at the Framingham High School. Jason had every right to be at the Framingham High School," Norris said. "The teenagers in this case are telling the truth about the facts of the case.
"Why would an officer exaggerate what happened," Norris continued. "Like all of us, he has a job. Everyone wants to be promoted, wants to get ahead."
"Officer Smith was there on behalf of the town of Framingham and the ground department of the public schools," said Bercovitch. "He (Smith) told you he begged and pleaded for them to leave for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, he was fed up. There's no argument, he was fed up, but is it reasonable to believe that it was just in the last minute he asked them to leave. I would suggest it was not."
Not only was Smith frustrated, Bercovitch said, but so were the defendants, who would not leave.
"That's all this case is about," she said. "Officer Smith has the authority to ask them to leave, he asked them to leave, they didn't leave, and he arrested them."
Also yesterday, both Schroeder and Osorio testified, while Smith was called as a rebuttal witness twice. Smith, Officer Benedetto Ottaviani, Torti and Snead were among those who testified Monday.
Schroeder testified that she was heading to her car when Smith arrested her. She said she even had her keys out ready to drive off.
"Officer Smith said, 'That's it,' and he threw me against the car," said Schroeder. "He yelled at me and said grow up."
Bercovitch asked Schroeder if she was mad when everything was happening, but she said she was more shocked and scared than angry. Bercovitch asked Schroeder why she did not call for help.
"You were scared? You didn't leave, did you? Did you call Edwin's mother? Did you call your mother? Did you call Jason's mother?" asked Bercovitch. "You were scared, but you went up to Officer Smith and questioned him?"
Schroeder said she was worried for Snead, who was later released from the cruiser and left before the arrests, and upset that Smith would not answer her questions.
At one point, Bercovitch looked at Schroeder's key chain and pointed out one that said "Property of Princess."
"Do you consider yourself a princess? Were you upset how he was treating you?" Bercovitch asked. The judge did not allow an answer to either question.
Later in the trial, Osorio said he was never told by anyone he should leave the snow fort before Smith came. He said he had heard someone had stopped and spoke to Snead, but he was not involved in the conversation.
Later, Osorio said he heard Smith berating Snead.
"I heard Officer Smith ask Edwin his name and where he lived," said Osorio. "I heard him ask if he (Snead) was a wise ass or trying to be smart by what he was doing at the snow mound."
I wonder what public property is anymore.
This "Peter Principle" icon looks to be "Principal Peter."
I smell ozone...
Anybody can send there kids off to school, and let someone else teach them. But it takes real effort and determination to CORRECTLY homeschool children.
The jaw drops. Have we REALLY become this mindless that it is ok to arrest kids for making a snow fort or suspend kids for talking to their mothers serving in the armed forces in Iraq!!??
Is this REALLY what we have become??
Where are those on this forum that claim moral superiority to Europe? This suggests that we are anything BUT morally superior!!
Needless to say, I am just a tad bit disgusted at the behavior of those in charge.
It appears that you graduated from the Sean Hannity school of grammar.
A friend of mine is a PI. He's told me on several occasions that a lot of cops are just stupid thugs. Personally, I have not seen this to be true. But what do I know about law enforcement.
Ah, a grammar and spelling enforcer. Looks like we got another "Barney Fife".
Another example of people (the cops) that don't understand the concept of the state existing to serve the public and not the other way around.
We had a revolution over stuff like this.
Just exactly who was waiting to use the snow mound? Nitwit.
Every time they pay for something in MA they pay sales tax which goes into the state coffers. Much of that is paid out to the cities and towns in subsidies for such projects as school buildings and maintenance. So yes, they pay taxes.
You said: So, if me and four buddies, as taxpayers, decided to go down to the local high school and start playing basketball in the gym, then school authorities would have to tell the basketball team to wait until we were done?
If school authorities, and not the police, had asked the teens to leave school grounds (which is not likely, since school was closed), it would be a different story. Do the police have the authority to decide who may and who may not be on public property? Did anyone from the school, charged with running the school, tell them, or tell the police to tell them, to leave? No school meeting or function was being disrupted, as far as I can tell.
I support the job police have to do, but I am not sure that this was anything the police should have been involved in.
Check out the actual news site. Apparently, the assistant principal did call the cops.
That s'plains everything.
What are you, lady, the grammer police?
After all the rules are the rules are the rules, don't forget to genuflect before the almighty lawbook. /sarc
Stupid rules are stupid. Stupid applications of well meaning rules are also stupid. If the rules are not written to take into account instances in which the rules should not apply, as many petty rules are, then the rules should be tossed.
Increasingly, we see cases where people in authority are incapable of administering the rules with any sense of prosecutorial discretion.
Inner city kids are supposed to use school facilities after hours to play on outside basketball courts, but a few kids cannot use a snow pile to play on a snow day?
When authority is ludicrous, we rebel, in one way or another. Ever go faster than the posted speed limit?
As for homeschooling, at home the rules make sense.
With the incredible number of rules and regulations being promulgated daily, virtually anyone is in violation of some rule, somewhere, sometime. And the situation is getting worse, not better. Before long, every whiner who thinks "there ought to be a law" will have their way and we can all be in thrall to the state.
This article is about someone sticking their nose where it really doesn't belong, over stepping their authority, and here you are doing the same thing to someone for bad grammar.
Some people should be looking in the mirror.
Your rite. When me goes hyking, me takes my Sig pissstole wit me. Me always haz fiftean rounds in da magaseen and won in da bleach. Dat way me is alwaze pripaird.
School grounds outside of the building should be treated essentially the same as park grounds. Park grounds are open to the public during the day. Comparing being outside in a parklike setting to being inside a secured building is just silly.
A school is public property. Last I heard, 18 year old kids were part of the public.
Where am I going wrong?
I assume the assistant principal has the authority to order students off school property when the school is closed- probably even when it's open.
Is that all they did? Maybe there are more facts. The kids would have fared better having sex somewhere warm. Then everybody would have been happy.
A neighbor gave my kid and me one of our happiest memories. They didn't object when he built, for him, and elaborate ski jump on their property. He was so proud of it, and I walked down the alley to see it and watch him perform. Another neighbor used to loan my kids their toboggan.
Thinking back, I should have asked the first neighbor if it was all right (he could have found me if he didn't like it) and made sure my son cleaned up the boards after he was done. I was a little negligent in the good neighbor department there, was really thoughtless of me, but I was younger and struggling to survive. If I see him out in his beautiful garden, I'll ask him if he remembers. Maybe somebody else owns the property now.
Another neighbor on one of the nicest streets in town, let the kids use their pool. When the flag was up, the kids could go swimming. I was a little leery about that because I didn't know how much supervision they were getting, but it was generous of them to think of the kids. The flag is long gone now. So are the kids. There are much fewer around here, and it has one of the best elementary schools in town.
Now everybody, including me, is so afraid of lawsuits, things are different. I even worry about it when I catch the neighbor kids in my trees. Sometimes I give permission, but watch them like a hawk and then tell them time to come down. Watching one girl go so high up and the gyrations to reach an apple was really something. I just had to ask her to come down, saying I didn't mind them taking the apples, but didn't want them to get hurt. I used to love to climb trees, but one mad parent and lawsuit my less friendly insurance company could try to weasle out of could finish me off. I doubt a release form, making the parents sign, blah blah would hold up in court anyway.
"...order from Assistant Superintendent Ed Torti to leave the school grounds..." Well is it an "assistant principal" or an "Assistant Superintendent"? One thing is clear this Ed Torti is bucking to be an "Assistant Warden", the truly sad thing is that he is on the public payroll.
Actually, the entire article isn't posted here. I went to the link and searched on what kankor posted, and it was there.
The school superintendent asked them to leave, and when they refused, he called the cops.
I still believe this is a rediculous escalation for playing in the snow.
I know the real reason that the kids were arrested...
They were erecting a structure without the proper city and county permits, and without the proper inspections by city, county, state, and federal inspectors, like OSHA. They didn't have an environmental impact study done either.
Governments can't allow this sort of action to take place. The kids are obviously anarchists, who refused to wait for the process to complete (and never paid any of the fees, taxes, and bribes that are normally paid).
Of course, had they gone through all the paperwork, had the study done, and paid all the money, it would have been half past summer before they could have gotten started on their "snow fort!"
My memories of high school were of regularly using the grounds of the high school for activities when school was over. This included summers and weekends. We played every sport imaginable, soccer, football, la cross, or ran on the high school's out door track. Me and my friends also went to other local school yards to play as well. We would draw a square batter's box on the wall of one grade school and play fast pitch baseball using the wall as a back stop for our tennis balls. I can't remember ever being kicked off by the police. The only time the police came by is when we played softball in the street. We of course resumed play when the police drove away.
This of course, does not include the various indoor soccer matches played in the Gyms of local grade schools on Sunday mornings when they left the doors unlocked.
Things sure have changed.
You are right. These kids had no business building a snow fort such as this. They should have been in a gang stealing some cars like normal kids or at very least smoking dope while they vegged in front of a TV tuned into something culturally stimulating like MTV.
You state that the rules and laws of society should be obeyed. Indeed they should. I am not, however, aware of any overt laws prohibiting playing in the snow on public property. I don't approve of smart aleck kids but there seems to be more to this than that. I would guess it has more to do with a cop with a Barny Fife complex. It's a good thing that they didn't give him his bullet that day or we might be reading about a one sided shootout at a heavily fortified (snow) compound.
Those kids were at their own school, engaged in good clean fun, not hurting anybody. I think what you see on Free Republic, at least in this case, is a disgust for the abuse of authority.
Works for me
And the kids were trying to vandalize anything, as far as the story goes, they were simply playing in the snow.
You got that right. Wonder what Robert Frost would write about in our times. No exalting kids swinging in birches and bending their limbs down. Somebody would have a fit.
Glad you have some good memories on the school grounds. My school was too far so we never stuck around after school. But I lived on a quiet street, and we played kick the can, softball, simon says, and some hide and seek game. No cops ever chased us off. I don't remember a police car or fire truck ever coming to that street in the 9 years I lived there.
And fourth of July was really something then. We had caps and cap guns. Haven't seen any in years. My sister and I both had them. Few powder burns now and then. No big deal.
They probably patrol that street once in awhile now. It's been fifty years. I have a b&w photo I took as a kid of the street (mostly small bungalow type and a few two story homes) with all the old cars (late 40's). I've gone back to do a now in full color with my digital. It's amazing that the houses have changed so little, very few additions, just some newer siding here and there, new garages, swimming pool in one yard, all properties in good condition. Most of them are even the same color they were 50 years ago.
When a for sale sign goes up on that street, it doesn't last a week usually. People know a good thing when they see it.
Public schools have playing fields.
Playing fields are built for play and the public paid for those fields.
In our town, the local high school playing field is at the bottom of a slope and the high school buildings are at the top of the slope.
Whenever there is a decent snowfall on a non-school day, hundreds of residents from kids, to parents to grandparents go to the high school playing field to sled down the slope and engage in other snow play.
It has been that way for as long as the old-timers can remember.
If you live in a town where such play is prohibitted in school playing fields, I'm sorry for you.
It sounds like their real crime was being smart asses to the cops.
As you can observe on any episode of Cops, the world is full of people stupider than cops, so it isn't that cops are the stupidest people on Earth. The problem, as with every case of self-esteem driven pseudoprofessionalism, is that cops are TOLD they know what they are doing. Being of limited intelligence, they believe it with every fibre of their being. Hence the cases of people being turned down as too intelligent for police work.
Yes. I would. I would, for example, ruin his credit rating, post his picture all over the Internet as a good customer of underage prostitutes of both sexes in Asia, and have a woman make a few hangup calls to his wife. I would plant evidence of misdeeds for the press to find. I would do this over a long period of time, deniably, and always present a very nice face in person.
Cops never hesitate to lie. If they mess with me or members of my family, they can expect a full-on campaign of lies about them and their family. And I would get away with it because I have no ego invovlement or need take take credit.
Actually, The greatest danger of homeschooling is that your kids will not grow up NOT to be STUPID..
Federally controlled and financed schools have been activily dumbing down students for more than a generation..
That not being enough George Bush is importing ignorance from Mexico at an alarming rate.. further dumbing down America,.. 80 per cent of high school seniors today, cannot find Mexico or Canada on a map.. or globe.. What else do they DON'T know..
Making snow forts is taken a lot more seriously since 9/11
I mean, they built a snowfort by a school.
Thank goodness for Officer Smith. The world needs heroes.
During closing statements, both defense attorneys tried to convince the jury the arrests stemmed from the arresting officer, James Smith, getting angry at the "smart ass" teens.
Oh, come on. We all know this never happens.
another one for the Police State files.
oh, is this a crime? I've always wondered about that.
Of course abuse of authority is clearly a crime, but for some reason it can never be proven.
"I guess they've got no murderers, rapists, thieves, or stop sign runners in Framingham, so they go after the snow fort makers."
That's exactly what I was thinking.
RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!
The moral of this story is: Don't smart-off to cops, be polite!