- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

GERING, Neb. (AP) - A judge has ended a trial and dismissed the case against a Gering 18-year-old accused of scrawling racist graffiti on the windows of a high school classmate’s car.

Judge James Worden of Scotts Bluff County Court made his ruling Tuesday after three hours of testimony in the trial of Alysha Schwartzkopf, a senior at Gering High School.

Defense attorney Todd Morten asked the judge to rule that the law covering the charge against Schwartzkopf didn’t apply in her case. Worden agreed, saying subsections of the law covering graffiti showed that it applied only to buildings and other structures, but not car windows. He emphasized that he was ruling only on the applicability of the law, not on the facts of the case.

Police say that on Oct. 17 at a high school volleyball game in Scottsbluff, Schwartzkopf defaced the windows of another Gering High School senior, Isaiah Wilson, who is biracial.

“I was mad,” Wilson testified about his reaction to finding the slur. “(I was mad) because it was on my car, on the car that I drove.”

Prosecutor Jeremy Anderson said Schwartzkopf was one of several students involved in a plan to retaliate against Wilson over an incident involving a cousin of Schwartzkopf, Matthieu Prieels.

Wilson said in court that Prieels had used a racial slur in a September incident with Wilson. School officials subsequently punished Prieels with three days of in-school suspension.

Defense attorney Morten said his client had written on Wilson’s vehicle because someone had bet her $5 that she wouldn’t.

“Maybe (writing the word) is mean, careless, reckless and hurtful, but that doesn’t make it a crime,” Morten said.

Wilson’s mother, Chris Wilson said she was disgusted by the judge’s ruling and said she found the testimony disgraceful.

But, she said, “There is nothing I can say or do about it. If you can write on a rail car and it is considered graffiti, how is that any different than a vehicle?”

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