Lookout Update: BLM mural vandalism trial still not set; restitution hearing scheduled for late May
Brandon Bochat and Hagan Warner will be returning to court in the week of May 31 for a restitution hearing, Superior Court Judge Syda Cogliati decided Thursday.
At that May hearing, the court will decide a restitution amount in the case against the men accused in last year’s vandalism of the Black Lives Matter mural on Center Street in downtown Santa Cruz. The defense team believes that the current restitution sought — $114,000 — is too high and plans on a new, lower number.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to the felony vandalism charges with a hate crime enhancement for doing burnouts over the mural outside Santa Cruz City Hall in July 2021. After a new restitution amount is agreed upon, the case will move forward.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Mahan expressed disappointment with the decision, saying a restitution hearing is premature without a guilty plea.
Cogliati mostly disagreed with Mahan’s assessment, though she said she understood that the public might be getting impatient, particularly after the men’s arraignment in January ended with Warner’s request for a continuance to replace his then-counsel.
“People would be disappointed in our justice system if we don’t get this going soon,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of court dates where we didn’t do much.”
In December, Cogliati determined that there was enough evidence to send the men to trial.
Community members may give statements at the hearing to advocate for a certain amount of restitution, but they will not be subject to cross-examination.
The hearing is currently set for May 31, but could move to another date during the same week.