Lookout Update: BLM mural vandalism case gets restitution amount, trial date from judge

Hagan Warner, one of the two men accused of vandalizing the Black Lives Matter mural in front of Santa Cruz City Hall
Hagan Warner, one of the two men accused of vandalizing the Black Lives Matter mural in front of Santa Cruz City Hall, in court Monday.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Alleged BLM mural vandals Brandon Bochat and Hagan Warner are facing total restitution payments of $19,623 — well below the $114,000 sought by the prosecution. Their trial, which has been set for Oct. 10, will decide whether they’re guilty and what the punishment beyond restitution could look like.

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Sig graphic for BLM mural update

Almost a year to the date after Brandon Bochat and Hagan Warner allegedly vandalized the BLM mural in front of Santa Cruz City Hall, the two men finally have a trial date and restitution amount set.

On Monday morning, the defense team and Santa Cruz County Superior Court agreed to a total restitution amount of $19,623 to be paid if convicted, much lower than the $114,000 sought by the prosecution. The restitution amount includes $11,040 in artist commission fees as proposed by the Santa Cruz Equity Collab, $500 in administrative costs, $4,000 for cleanup and restoration of the mural, $3,230 for materials, and $853 for permit fees.

Warner was in court in person Monday, along with his attorney, Ed Sidawi; Bochat was represented in the courtroom by attorney Micha Rinkus.

Unless Bochat and Warner plead guilty in the coming months, their trial is set for Oct. 10 — nearly 10 months after Superior Court Judge Syda Cogliati ruled that there was enough evidence for the men to stand trial.

The total amount could change in the event of a significant deviation in the cost of a material or if more relevant circumstances are brought to the court, but Cogliati said the amount is likely set.

Warner, Sidawi, Rinkus
From left to right: Defendant Hagan Warner and his attorney, Ed Sidawi, sit with Brandon Bochat’s attorney, Micha Rinkus, in court Monday.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Cogliati emphasized that the men’s punishment — whether it is jail time, probation, or another alternative — is yet to be determined, and that the relatively lower restitution amount is not meant to minimize the situation.

“The court is not making any judgment about the appropriate punishment or minimizing the significance of the impact on the community caused by the vandalism of the Black Lives Matter mural,” she said. “The court understands that it is more than just paint on the ground to the community, and to the Black community especially.”

Santa Cruz resident and hearing attendee Josh Bailey said Monday’s developments “feel good.”

“The restitution amount could have been less,” he said.

Brittney Bailey, Josh’s wife, said officials seemed to acknowledge the effect the vandalism has had on the community.

Josh and Brittney Bailey ask Assistant District Attorney Michael Mahan about the road ahead.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“The judge seemed to have empathy for the community and that felt good,” she said. “I was surprised to see the judge express those feelings.”

Though Monday’s developments are the first big step forward in some time, Josh Bailey still has his concerns.

“This process is exhausting,” he said. “I still fear that they may get minimal punishment.”

There will be a trial readiness conference — a standard meeting between all trial counsel, with defendants present, to ensure all are ready for trial — on Sept. 28.

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