MORIARTY — Matthew Schindele and Lauren Medina had a nice romantic date at McCall’s Pumpkin Patch last October.
But that date didn’t really end until Tuesday in the Torrance County Magistrate Court.
The Albuquerque pair who both attend the University of New Mexico were found guilty of one charge each of shoplifting an item of $250 or less in value. The items they took? Pumpkins no larger than a volleyball worth no more than $5.
“It’s not the dollar amount we’re talking about,” said Torrance County Magistrate Steve Jones. “We’re talking about something you took without paying for.”
Jones, however, deferred the petty misdemeanor sentence, which could have cost Schindele and Medina up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. Instead, Jones sentenced the pair to 40 hours of community service at UNM or the church of their choice, at the end of which the charges would be dropped from their records. In addition, each will have to pay a $73 court charge.
The pair also have the option of appealing Jones’ decision to state District Court. Andrew Ortiz, the pair’s attorney, would not comment after the decision was handed down.
The case has attracted national attention thanks to many news outlets and bloggers picking it up and spreading it around. Many comments on message boards criticize the court system, the Torrance County Sheriff’s Department and McCall’s Pumpkin Patch.
Journal Staff — A 23-year-old college student is scheduled to go to trial today in Moriarty for allegedly stealing a small pumpkin worth $2.
KOAT-TV reported that Lauren Medina will go before a jury and Moriarty Magistrate Steve Jones. She is accused of taking the pumpkin in October 2011 from McCall’s Pumpkin Patch in Moriarty.
Her sister, Annette Atencio, says Medina spent $75 on food that day but forgot to pay for the pumpkin she picked up as she was leaving. Atencio says her sister offered to pay but was refused and then handcuffed.
Atencio says she’s in disbelief that the theft charge against her sister was not dropped. She says her sister could have pleaded guilty and been given probation, but refused.