- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
After a one-day bench trial, Calvert County Circuit Court Judge Marjorie L. Clagett found Curtis L. Millsap II guilty of spray-painting racial epithets and male genitalia on guard rails, street signs and other property throughout the county in February and March last year.
Millsap, 27, of Sunderland was found guilty Wednesday of two counts of malicious destruction of property more than $500 and three counts of malicious destruction of property less than $500.
He was found not guilty of one count of malicious destruction of property more than $500 and three counts of malicious destruction of property less than $500.
The first count of malicious destruction of property scheme more than $500 was dropped by the state during the trial.
A sentencing hearing for Millsap is scheduled for April 12, where he faces a maximum sentence for all charges of 6 ½ years in jail.
During the trial, Deputy Funchion, Deputy Mosley and Deputy Bortchevsky of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office and Tfc. Sorenson of the Maryland State Police Prince Frederick barrack all testified they responded to calls for malicious destruction of properties where racial epithets, “white power” related phrases or imagery or drawings of male genitalia had been painted in black, green or chrome paint on the road, road signs, guard rails or trees between Feb. 13 and March 2, 2012, on Sunderleigh Drive and Clagett, Dalrymple, Hardesty and Ponds Wood roads.
Det. H. Rich of the Calvert Investigative Team said he was assigned to lead the case in February after instances of destruction of property continued to occur and became a concern in the community. Rich said he believed all of the cases were connected because “the theme of the messages was the same.”
Rich testified he responded to a call for destruction of property March 2, 2012, at a bridge on Hardesty Road, where he found the phrase, “[Expletive] love to smoke crack on Kent Road Nick Rusk.” He made contact with Nick Rusk on March 7 and asked him if he was involved in drawing the graffiti. Rich said after speaking with Rusk, “nothing indicated he was connected” to any of the cases, and he asked Rusk if he knew anyone who was. Rusk gave him Millsap’s name, Rich said.
Rich asked Rusk if he knew if Millsap had a negative attitude toward black people. Rusk said Millsap “was capable of having negative thoughts” toward black people and interracial couples, Rich said.
During Rusk’s testimony, he denied making statements to Rich about Millsap having problems with black people or interracial couples.
In mid-March, Rich testified, he posted fliers in the Sunderland area asking for information about the graffiti. The Calvert County Crime Solvers received an anonymous tip from “Ernie” providing Millsap’s name in connection with the cases, Rich said.
Rich said he met with Ernest Hostetter, who “reaffirmed” Millsap as a suspect in the case. Rich said Hostetter told him Millsap, who is friends with Hostetter’s sister, was at his house the night of Feb. 13, 2012, and had black paint on his hands. Hostetter said he later heard Millsap bragging about drawing graffiti on a road, Rich said.
Hostetter testified Wednesday that when he met with Rich he believed he was giving an anonymous tip, not a statement. He said he lied in the statement about Millsap having paint on his hands and hearing Millsap bragging about drawing graffiti because he wanted the reward from crime solvers.
When Calvert County Assistant State’s Attorney Alexandra Bynum asked Hostetter if he saw Millsap with black paint on his hands, Hostetter said, “I don’t know what I saw.” Hostetter testified he thought providing the anonymous tip would be “an easy $1,000, but it’s become a hailstorm.”
Bynum then asked Hostetter if he remembered writing in his statement that Millsap has “an issue” with black people, and Hostetter said he did not. She asked Hostetter if he also recalled writing Millsap “has a problem with society … and I think he has a problem with minorities” and that Millsap made “it clear to me” that interracial couples “is disgusting,” and Hostetter said he lied when he wrote that.
During cross examination, Millsap’s attorney Dale Rowland asked Hostetter if he gave the anonymous tip for the crime solvers money and Hostetter said, “Absolutely.”
Rich, during his testimony, said after speaking with Hostetter, he went to Millsap’s home March 27, 2012, to speak with him, but had to come back the next day because Millsap had been drinking. Rich said as he was leaving, Millsap said he did paint graffiti on one of the barns.
On March 28, 2012, Rich said he interviewed Millsap while his fiancé’s mother, Becky Cable, was present. Millsap again admitted to painting graffiti on a barn Feb. 13, 2012, but denied his involvement in any other case. Rich said Millsap and Cable offered to show him other artwork Millsap had done and they showed him a mural Millsap had painted on a bed headboard. Rich said the same green, black and chrome colors used to paint the graffiti were part of the painting on the headboard.
Through investigation, Rich came into contact with one of Millsap’s ex-girlfriends, Stephanie Hartwick. During her testimony, Hartwick said she dated Millsap for about three years, during which time he expressed his “hatred” toward black people. She said she had seen Millsap draw several things, which looked similar and contained the same “signature” as several of the graffiti paintings throughout Sunderland.
Nicole Cable, Millsap’s fiancé, testified as a defense witness that Millsap attends church with her and has never had a problem with the black parishioners who also attend the church. She said the pastor of the church is black, and “Curtis loves him, and he loves Curtis.” She said she did not believe Millsap drew the graffiti because he was with her “all the time.” When Rowland asked Nicole Cable if Millsap was racist, she said, “Not at all.”