ELYRIA – The three Oberlin College students accused of trying to steal wine from Gibson’s Bakery in Oberlin and then allegedly beating the store’s employee when he tried to detain them pleaded guilty Friday to amended misdemeanor charges.
The deal calls for them to receive no jail time and to pay restitution.
Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi delivered the sentencing Friday afternoon after several tense hours of negotiations between the parties.
Jonathan Aladin, 20, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of attempted theft, aggravated trespassing and underage purchase of alcohol.
Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone, both 19, pleaded guilty to attempted theft and aggravated trespassing.
Oberlin police reported that Aladin tried to buy a bottle of wine Nov. 9 but Allyn Gibson, whose family owns the bakery, refused to sell it to him. Gibson confronted Aladin about the two bottles of wine the student allegedly had hidden under his shirt.
The police report said Gibson told Aladin he was calling the police and not to leave. Aladin allegedly tried to leave, and Gibson told police he took out his phone to take a picture. That’s when Gibson said Aladin slapped the phone from his hand and the device hit Gibson in the face. Police have said Aladin then ran from the store, dropping the two bottles of wine to the floor.
Gibson chased after Aladin and the two men got into a physical confrontation outside.
When police arrived, they reported seeing Gibson on the ground with Aladin, Lawrence and Whettstone hitting him.
Days of protests followed the incident when the students insinuated that Gibson’s actions were racially motivated as the students are black and Gibson is white.
Before the sentencing, Aladin, Lawrence and Whettstone each read statements acknowledging that Gibson was within his right to detain Aladin and that his actions were not racially motivated.
Though the two women read nearly identical statements, the lawyers representing Gibson’s sought clarification when one of the woman changed the wording – saying Gibson’s actions “may not” be racially motivated.
The lawyer representing the women, Jack Bradley, read the line of the statement for clarification: “I believe the employees of Gibson’s actions were not racially motivated. They were merely trying to prevent an underage sale.”
The women then agreed to that version of the statement and it was submitted to the judge.
Miraldi ordered Aladin, Lawrence and Whettstone to pay restitution costs of $334 each to account for the out-of-pocket expenses incurred from the hospital bills for Allyn Gibson along with one-year of good behavior.
Allyn’s father, David Gibson, made a short statement during the hearing to say that his business and family is still suffering harassment and backlash from the incident.