Lawyer: Teen will ask to be forgiven

By CHRIS TISCH St. Petersburg Times
Published May 16, 2004

An attorney for a teen arrested in connection with the vandalism of the Virgin Mary building said his client will plead to the charge, then ask a judge for forgiveness.

Clearwater police arrested Kyle Maskell, 18, on a felony criminal mischief charge Monday in connection with the March 1 smashing of three windows on a building at Drew Street and U.S. 19. Those windows are the top part of a rainbow-hued figure that some believe is an image of the Virgin Mary.

Maskell, who told police he broke the windows to vent his anger over a childhood spent in foster homes, was bailed out of jail Thursday afternoon. Though a public defender initially was appointed to represent him, a private attorney, Roger Futerman, has been retained on Maskell’s behalf.

Futerman said Saturday he could not reveal who hired him to represent Maskell who posted Maskell’s bail.

An assistant public defender said their office had received a number of phone calls from people wanting to help Maskell.

Futerman said Maskell will plead guilty or no contest to the charge, probably at his first pretrial hearing, which has not been set. “This is a case that is not going to go to trial,” Futerman said. “He’s going to beg for forgiveness from the court and the public.”

Futerman said he will try to negotiate a deal with prosecutors that will not include jail or prison time. He said there are mitigating factors in the case, including that Maskell’s only previous criminal record is a shoplifting charge. He also cooperated with police, has expressed remorse and comes from a troubled background, Futerman said.

Clearwater police also said last week they didn’t think the case warranted a prison sentence.

“It should not qualify as prison,” Futerman said. “This is an isolated incident.”

Though police on Monday released some details of Maskell’s troubled young life in foster homes, Futerman said he has learned more from the teen.

“I think when the public finds out about this young man and what he’s been through . . . the anger at his act will turn to a little bit of sympathy,” he said.

Police arrested Maskell after a friend found a slingshot, steel balls and newspaper clippings about the vandalism in a bedroom. Police said Maskell cried while admitting to the crime.