A young man charged with vandalizing Danville’s All Wars Memorial with graffiti last year has agreed to make a public apology to local military veterans’ organizations next week, a district attorney’s office representative confirmed Wednesday.
The planned public showing by defendant Jared Vance is part of a restorative justice approach to the situation that is parallel to the criminal case still pending against the 19-year-old, according to Dan Cabral, assistant district attorney for Contra Costa County.
"We wanted to bring these people together so the offender could truly understand just how much this affected people ... who served in the military and have given us the liberty we have today,” Cabral said during a phone interview Wednesday.
A restorative justice solution can help provide more closure in situations where a crime involves more than monetary damage, such as "the desecration of something that is sacred,” Cabral said. “This veterans memorial, in my mind, is priceless.”
The public apology is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Danville.
Vance's defense attorney could not be reached for comment as of Wednesday evening.
Bill Picton, president of the All Wars Memorial Foundation, said the organization hopes the public apology will accomplish two specific goals.
"First, it will reinforce the public's perception that defacement of a memorial should never happen," he said. "Second, it is our strong desire that with this very brave public act, the individual in question will demonstrate his true remorse for having been involved."
"We have been working diligently with various individuals to try to ensure that the young man in question comes away from this with a strong motivation to become the fine person we hope and believe he can be," Picton added.
Meanwhile, the felony vandalism case is still active against Vance, who is not in custody and was identified by police as a resident of Provo, Utah, when charges were filed last year. He has formally pleaded not guilty, and there is no plea agreement in place, according to Cabral.
The vandalism incident took place around 3:30 a.m. on June 8, 2015, when graffiti was marked on pavement, stone paths and granite benches at the memorial in Danville’s Oak Hill Park, located on Stone Valley Road, according to Danville police.
Dedicated to all who served the U.S. in wars, the All Wars Memorial features bronze figures, walking paths, stone walls and a historical quotation wall. The site is maintained by the town in collaboration with the All Wars Memorial Foundation.
A two-month investigation followed —including town officials and private contributors offering a combined $12,000 reward for information in the case — before Danville police announced in September 2015 that they identified Vance as their suspect.
Police said other people were at the park during that time, but Vance was the only one charged in connection with the vandalism. Police described Vance being “from the area” but having recently moved to Utah at the time charges were announced.
Cabral said Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson suggested to him that the memorial vandalism case might benefit from a restorative justice approach, a victim-offender reconciliation program.
Cabral said he spoke with local veterans’ organization members to gauge their interest in a restorative resolution, and after receiving their support, he broached the topic with the defense, who were agreeable.
Cabral acknowledged that restorative justice usually occurs in a case before criminal charges get filed, but there are situations, like this one, that present an opportunity after prosecution begins.
The felony case against Vance remains on hold. A preliminary hearing has not yet been scheduled, with the attorneys asking the judge to wait for the reconciliation plan to materialize, Cabral said. Vance has a court appearance scheduled in the case next Tuesday, the prosecutor added.
Cabral said the attorneys plan to update the judge on the restorative justice progress, including the planned public apology, "and let the court decide what to do."