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Posted on Wed, May 15, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

Ann Arbor SAES graffiti suspect will face more charges, remains in custody

By John Counts


There are numerous instances of the tag SAES throughout Ann Arbor.

Melanie Maxwell |

The 15-year-old Ann Arbor boy accused of spray painting his moniker SAES all over the city will face more vandalism charges, police said.

A court hearing Wednesday in the Washtenaw County juvenile court was adjourned three weeks due to more charges being filed against the teen.

"There is another petition winding its way through court," the boy's attorney Lynn D'Orio told Referee Julia Owdziej when requesting the adjournment.

Owdziej set the next hearing for June 5 and ordered the boy to remain in the Washtenaw County Youth Home.

Ann Arbor police Det. Robin Larson could not confirm how many other counts the juvenile will face, but did say she is working on putting together another petition to submit to the prosecutor's office.

The charges will be similar in nature to the 16 destruction of property counts the boy already faces, according to court proceedings.

Nine of those counts are felonies punishable by five years of imprisonment, and/or $10,000 or three times the amount of destruction or injury, whichever is greater. The remaining counts are misdemeanors, four punishable by one year in jail and/or $2,000 or three times the amount of damage and three punishable by 93 days in jail and/or $500 or three times the amount of damage, whichever is greater.

The boy appeared in court wearing a juvenile detention jumpsuit with shackles on his wrists and ankles. He addressed the referee about why he should be released from the youth home while awaiting the next hearing.

"I would like to go back to school," he said. "I just want to give it my all. I don't want to give up."

The boy attended Community High School up until being taken into custody.

The boy said he was remorseful for what he had done and that his stay at the detention center had taught him a lesson. He also said he would be willing to work with all the businesses to clean up all the graffiti he is accused of spray painting.

"I really want to turn it around from now on," he said.

The prosecution was unmoved.

"I don't think (he) takes any of this seriously," argued Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Jonathan Emmons against the boy being freed.

Despite hearing pleas from the boy's mother, father and grandmother, Owdziej ordered the boy to remain at the youth home until at least May 28, when she scheduled another placement review.

The boy was taken into custody three days after breaking a court ordered tether ruling in April.

The prosecutor's office also requested and was granted an order to have the boy evaluated by the drug court because there was a concern of "high-level drug use," according to probation officials.

On Monday, a 16-year-old Ann Arbor Pioneer High School student told the court he was behind the "Mole" tags. He pleaded guilty in 11 counts of property destruction. Police say the two boys were friends and are responsible for numerous graffiti on dozens of buildings, overpasses, light poles and other locations around Ann Arbor.

Just how much restitution the boys will have to pay together should be determined by the time the 16-year-old is sentenced June 18.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Wed, May 22, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

he didnt kill anyone there is no need for all the charges. hes 15 years old. in reality all of you know if you did the paint job yourself it would cost 20-100 dollers to paint over any of the graffiti. you live in a town infestited with graffiti and has been for a long time just like any other town in america. make him paint over everything for community service but to charge such a young kid and not give him a chance at all to fix what he did is not fair. drunk drivers and other miscellaneous crimes get less time than what this kid is being charged with. nice way to screw a young kids whole life over. with 9 felonys and maybe more what is he suppost to do with his life? how is he suppost to get a job or anything? come on. this is pathetic. paint over your buildings and move on.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

RE: "The boy was taken into custody three days after breaking a court ordered tether ruling in April. The prosecutor's office also requested and was granted an order to have the boy evaluated by the drug court because there was a concern of "high-level drug use," according to probation officials." Compare the above determinations to this youth's statements of contrition: seems his credibility is in doubt, no? I hope the court is looking deeper into this youth's outlook, mind set and way of behaving. If this young man should decide to take the same attitude toward weapons as he has to spray painting, for example, I think it's fair to say he could present a real danger.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 10:34 p.m.

So glad our police force and court system are tied up with this nonsense. I wish I could select where my tax dollars are spent. Ridiculous.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 5:05 p.m.



Thu, May 16, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

Let me guess, it's the football coaches fault, not SAES. He's being targeted. NOT.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

They are always "remorseful" once they have a taste of the detention center. Throw the book at this punk and send a message to other punks who think it's "art" to vandalize private and public property.

Frustrated in A2

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 5:06 a.m.

He spray paints 80% of the town and now all of a sudden he feels bad. I say let him suffer!!!!


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 3:18 a.m.

Not to defend SAES actions in any way, but the act of 'tagging' is a bit like having an addiction, one becomes obsessed and cannot see an object without also seeing ones tag on it. Obviously it is hard to stop once you get going. Maybe there should be some addiction treatment as part of the punishment.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

Is this kid's picture not on this story because he's a juvenile, or not yet convicted, or what? might have already explained when people's pictures go up, but I missed it. Seems like I've seen pics of people in the midst of hearings before, though, like not just AFTER they've been convicted.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

Barb is correct JRW, and for reference the 17 is the juvenile age cut-off.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

No. Juvenile. You might want to read up on this.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

Any chance of publishing the name?

Kyle Mattson

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 4:35 a.m.

The former RUK. It is our policy to not publish photos of juveniles.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2 a.m.

SAES (Silent Army Elite Squad) is a clan of virtual army of gamers playing urban warfare. My guess would be that his defense will consist of a claim that he is not the only one doing this.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

"I would like to go back to school," he said. "I just want to give it my all. I don't want to give up." Does anybody believe this nonsense?


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.



Thu, May 16, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

No, absolutely not. You would think the kid would have taken his predicament seriously when he was fitted with a tether. He already used up his second chances.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 12:01 a.m.

It's not just spray painting -- the SAES tag is found on at least one parking meter on State Street, outside of Bivouvac


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

....carved into the parking meter with a sharp object (e.g. knife)....


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

Just a couple months ago SAES tagged his name in 6 foot tall pink letters on a lawyers office just across the street for the Ypsilanti Police Department and the 14A-2 District Courthouse. That's where this boys mind is. I hope Ypsilanti gets its turn in court with this kid...

Dirty Mouth

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

SAES wants to go back to school? Will they take him back in light of the felonies? Not to mention all of the kids that would actually take full advantage of a CHS education waiting in the wings for their opportunity? It clearly take a village to raise a child, so where was everyone in SAES life?


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

I sure hope this punk doesn't get off with "probation" and slap on the wrist and then get sent back to CHS. Send him to jail, make him pay fines, make him pay for the damage, and make him clean up the destruction he has wreaked on property. If he gets done with all of that before he's 18, send him to Roberto Clemente.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 10:40 p.m.

What the heck does SAES mean anyways?


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

Yes, a deep thinker.

Bertha Venation

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

I kind of like the way the letters fit together also. Geesh, it's not all that much worse than the "art" in front of City Hall. He seems like a misguided artistic kid. If he could develop his talents in a positive way, I think it would be good.

John Counts

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

I've spoken with the boy's mother who said it doesn't mean anything. The boy just likes the way the letters look, she said.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:59 a.m.

I googled it and first hit is St. Andrews Episcopal School ( Maybe he could claim freedom of religious expression.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.

Great question except that it simply invites a lot of comments that will be deleted.

Usual Suspect

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

It translates roughly to, "Would somebody PLEASE enforce some boundaries in my life!"


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 12:46 a.m.

Ha, I have been wondering the same thing!


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

its really not that shocking.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 8:28 p.m.

I hear that while Loew's and other stores require ID for patrons to purchase spray paint, the Dollar Stores don't ask for ID.

Tom Teague

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

I asked a Home Depot clerk about the ID requirement when I bought spray paint in March and he said it was to combat minors huffing paint fumes to get high. But, most of the articles I read about it suggested that it is indeed to discourage graffiti mongers.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

He may want to go back to school, but it shouldn't be at Community, that ship has sailed. Give his spot to someone on the waiting list. Obviously he needs a tighter rein, like something RC or AATHS.

John Counts

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

The boy and his attorney said he has applied to W-A-Y Washtenaw.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Obviously you've not dealt with CHS' Dean... Otherwise you'd know better.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:32 p.m.

Barb, I suspect the Ann Arbor School Board will not only allow him back, but will grant him extra credit for his artwork.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

I'm sure that's not even a question at this point.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 8:20 p.m.

"He was a sweet and tender hooligan, hooligan And he swore that he'll never, never do it again And of course he won't (oh, not until the next time)" -The Smiths

Jojo B

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

Funny, as I was walking around Liberty and State today, I saw the SAES tag at least four times. It's EVERYWHERE.

Usual Suspect

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Thanks for publicizing his vandalism again, John. The kid thrives on this sort of negative attention, and you continue to feed him. Totally irresponsible.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

Let me clarify. We need the articles. We don't need the photos!


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:55 a.m.

Now I see why Cindy said what she did.She just put it in the wrong place.I agree with her.

Martha Cojelona Gratis

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

what's more obnoxious than the graffiti itself is this city's policy that if someone vandalizes your property, you are responsible for removing it quickly yourself else pay fines until you do.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

Understood, but, who else is going to do it? Obviously if they catch the responsible person and "make" them remove it but what if they don't. Sorry, but there has to be some rules to keep private property from falling into blight. And the city should lead by example with respect to timely clean up of their own property.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

Wow, that's ridiculous. Is the city fining itself for all of the parking equipment that says "SAES'?


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:13 p.m.

Julia Owdziej does good work in a very difficult job. We're lucky to have her there. Determining what will work to straighten out young people in trouble is never easy as most parents can attest.

Cornelius Nestor

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

This should be the expected result of classes in "graffiti art" which is itself the result of the view that any form of self-expression, however trivial or destructive, must not only be tolerated, but encouraged. If we pretend that stylized graffiti is art, then we tacitly excuse these vandals and must expect our neighborhoods to look like slums.

Cornelius Nestor

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 11:31 p.m.

I prefer not to live in a neighborhood that resembles a slum. Am I alone in this? The difference between slums and those neighborhoods that merely resemble them may be great, but perhaps not so great as is commonly thought.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:42 p.m.

I agree with seldon. Anyone worth their salt in graffiti history and knowledge should understand the possibility of consequences. This isn't a steel jungle where opportunity is limited and where getting your name up all over gets you some sort of a sense of achievement. To quote Eminem's final verses in the movie 8-mile, however cliche, "He went to CRANBROOK, that's a private school!" (I know that exact quotation doesn't have anything to do with this, but if you've seen it you know what I mean. Just for you downvoters out there.)


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

No. There's a difference between graffiti art and mere tagging. This isn't art, and I doubt even he thinks it is.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

I totally agree with Bcar. This is ridiculous, lets waste time and go look for more charges, and build up enough restitution. Ruin this kids life while the real criminals are out daily causing chaos. we have an absolute corrupt system. this kid has a talent, and the parents and teachers have failed him.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

Good lord, broken window theory??? Haven't you read any of the "other" comments here? That theory is by the man, for the man. We're talking about people here. Theories about developing minds and how criminality theories simply create criminals apply, not theories about how to arrest everybody who does something you don't like. We used to put people in jail for smoking pot to. Oh wait, we still do do that...ah, so far to go.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Barb: your reasoning totally confounds me. Google "broken windows theory" or better yet read Malcolm Gladwell's "Tipping Point."


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

Do any of you have any idea how many police resources have gone toward catching these kids? When there is more serious crime happening where no one is getting arrested? I don't know about you but I'm OK with a few taggers around (who wouldn't be doing it near as much if no one was giving them attention) but I'd rather feel safe walking down Stadium at 3 in the afternoon without getting mugged. How about a "task force" for that?


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

@Barb: how exactly do you think this "should have been handled better"? The kid blew his second continuing his vandalism after his first arrest. Then when he was outfitted with a tether, he violated those conditions and failed to attend school. Clearly, he's unable/unwilling to grasp the consequences of his behavior. What would you recommend?


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:52 a.m.

PSharon The fact that you are NOT willing to offer your house negates ANY argument you have tried to make!

Usual Suspect

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:28 a.m.

It's not "overkill" to stop a kid from continuing to cause tens of thousands (or, apparently, hundreds of thousands) of dollars worth of damage to the property of other citizens. It would be overkill if this was his first run-in with the law, the first time he was brought home in a car with blinking lights on top, or the first time receiving a suspension from school. However, at this point, when he has shown he will not stop his vandalism, even after given several opportunities to do so, then these are the steps that need to be taken. He is not the only one in this story. There are citizens across this town who has had to spend thousands of dollars to repair the damage he has caused. What about their rights? Is it "overkill" for them to demand that the person who caused the damage pay for it? The other silliness of these comments seem to say that as long as their are rapists out there then nobody can be charged with any crime less than rape. We have to let everything else go until all the rapists are caught, lest we be accused of "overkill."


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

PSharon, there are programs that help him out, its called art class at school. From what I've heard, Community has an excellent offering. There isn't an excuse to use someone else's property as your canvas and a 15 year old should know that. If he didn't, he should have gotten the message when he was arrested the first time.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 10:14 p.m.

He is a tagger not a graffiti artist. Huge difference.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

"Chaos" A2 Citizen? Let's relax and not be so dramatic. I think if spray painting in Ann Arbor is considered chaos then Ann Arbor should count themselves lucky as being ahead of the curve. Take a ride ten minutes in any direction and you will have an eye opening experience.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

I'm with PSharon - the only chaos being caused is the overkill in resources to "make an example of him" Of course he should pay restitution and clean up his mess but this is nuts. All of this could have been handled better. In the meantime, rapists are still out there... remember that guy? I wonder if there's a task force for that.

Usual Suspect

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

PSharon, none of us are ruining his life. He is doing it on his own, by rejecting the opportunities he has been given to leave his criminal behavior behind him. And what good are teachers going to do? If you've read the articles, you wold know that he walked out of school even with a GPS tether on him. Teachers are IN the school, not hanging out around downtown. They can only help him if he stays in the building. It would also help if he hadn't been kicked out of a school. Not much a teacher can do when you jump around from one school to another. But if you think some "program" will help, then go for it. Open your wallet and set something up for him. I'm not sure what makes you think he would participate, though.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

sharon. he is a real criminal. He is causing daily chaos. If the kid has talent it sure isn't art, it's acting. Little Eddie Haskell has to spend some time in jail...waah,..waahh,,,waaahhhh. you two having something in common, though.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

brad, graffiti is art. they actually taught a class at aadl. they must of forgot to tell the students not to paint on people property. Im not condoning what the kid did, but locking him up is wrong.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

no i wasnt being sarcastic. this is a troubled teen. @jack, id like to see you paint something, and instead of offering my house to be painted maybe id offer a program to help these teeanagers out here. Not detention and fines. instead of tax dollars going to the prosecutors payroll, it would be better spent towards better education.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

Criminals ruin their own lives, not the police and courts.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

And that talent is ... ? Because we know for sure that it isn't art.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

Jack, (I hope) sharon was being sarcastic.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

Maybe you should offer up your property to help him develop his "talent".


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

Since 15-yr-old kids don't have the brain development to understand more abstract and long-term implications of their behavior, I propose that someone be taken to his house, where his most prized possessions, whatever they may be, will then be spraypainted in a design he finds unpleasant in some unfortunate color. Perhaps, when he sees his favorite posters, trophies, computer game terminals, bedroom walls, etc., defaced with no regard for him or his feelings, he'll start to understand.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 7:01 p.m.

He likely has no attachment or favorites in the world of posters, trophies, ... I think he understands the act, but as was previously mentioned just not the long term consequences. I feel bad for him/them. We leave very little outlet for kids that see an imbalance in this world and develop a distaste of "property". Most kids I knew that tagged were not anti-social, just anti-ownership.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:48 a.m.

so an eye for eye


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

I think his punishment should be having to change his last name.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 6:33 p.m.

Parents were still not paying attention after his first arrest apparently. Kid is going to learn the hard way sooner or later that acting antisocial does have costs. Perhaps sooner would be easier in the long run for him.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

Yeah, of course - it's all the parents' fault. Anyone who's had a troubled teen knows it's not that easy. Still, I hope this kid learns as well. It's not going to be easy.

Usual Suspect

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

Sending this kid back to his status quo won't solve any problems. There are changes he needs in his life. Hopefully the judge will figure out what these are and implement them.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:50 a.m.

i agree, USuspect. a kid who has that much time to skulk around town and hang fron rafters (some of his 'work' appears to have put the offender in precarious positions) would seem to be a candidate for interventions like: restitution (already mentioned) mentoring faaaar better supervision education counseling job counseling and (perhaps, though wildly unpopular, very in line with my world view) catechism in and witness to the christian philosophy that he is valuable-- that he possesses an inviolable dignity given by God and that His name is already written on the palm of God's hand (is 49: 16.) therefore, he needn't bother criminally advertising his identity all over town. God already knows him. and loves him. but, drive-by church-izing will be useless. this kid needs objective adults who will invest/ risk something in/on him.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:49 a.m.

usual Either do I!

Usual Suspect

Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:20 a.m.

Cindy, I don't see what your response has to do with my comment.

Cindy Heflin

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Usual: People around town have clearly been interested in this case. We thought it was important to update readers about it.

John Counts

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 6:15 p.m.

halflight. You are correct. I listed what the penalties are for the charges, but it is true they won't necessarily apply in juvenile proceedings. It was to give an idea of what the punishment is for those charges in the criminal justice system. For a juvenile, those penalties could take the form of time in the youth home, probation, restitution, work programs, etc. In the end, however, he is charged with those counts and those are the penalties they carry per state law. Also, I use the word "sentencing" in the loose sense of the term in that he will be ordered to some form of punishment. This will take place, as you pointed out, at his disposition hearing, which is the equivalent to a sentencing hearing.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 2:46 a.m.

But then if the penalties you list do not typically or perhaps ever apply in juvenile court then your article is misleading and sensationalizing. I think the content of the story should be changed to reflect a more accurate account. It's one thing when it was written mistakenly, it is irresponsible when you acknowledge the information you wrote was wrong but you put it in anyway.

David Cahill

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 6:14 p.m.

This latest hearing should put to rest the fears of some that a Juvenile Court prosecution is not serious.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

John-- This is a petition regarding a juvenile, so the penalties (particularly the sentences) don't apply in this case. If the juvenile is found "responsible" for a violation of the criminal code, the court takes jurisdiction over him and issues dispositional orders, There is no "sentence" or "sentencing". A good outline of the juvenile disposition process is here: The court has more discretion than it would in a regular criminal case. There is no minimum dispositional order (unless the juvenile uses a firearm, in which case he must be placed in a detention facility)., but there is also not a maximum, The court focuses on changing the conditions that caused the offense. Detention in a facility is only one possible order. The juvenile may also be placed in foster care, the parents ordered into counseling, etc. Court jurisdiction continues until the court is satisfied that the conditions that caused the offense have been substantially remedied, or the juvenile reaches the age of 18.


Thu, May 16, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

thanks for this information.


Wed, May 15, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

Nine felonies for spray painting??? Yet the drunk driver who KILLED a guy gets 6 months?? Awesome... I say make this kid scrap spray paint (his and others), re-paint, full time, for a year.

Angry Moderate

Wed, May 15, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

A drunk guy jumping in front of a moving car is killing himself.