Jochen Wiest, the German man who set fire to a tree at Auburn’s famous Toomer’s Corner during the football season, likely will be hanging around Alabama for the holiday season.
According to a report from AL.com’s James Crepea, the state of Alabama has decided not to return Wiest’s passport in spite of his agreement to make a guilty plea on all charges stemming from the incident that followed the Tigers’ victory over LSU in September.
On Wednesday, the judge overseeing a bond hearing denied a request for Wiest to receive his passport back. Here’s the explanation from Steve Speakman, who served as the active court judge for the hearing, via AL.com:
“I fear the possibility that (Wiest) returns to Germany and … could stay in Germany and simply forfeit the money (for damages),” Speakman said. “I am very hesitant to return the passport under those circumstances. Given that we’ve got an application to plead guilty on information I do believe that it won’t be too long before a plea hearing is set (in Circuit Court) – sometime in the month of January, I would expect.
‘Therefore, given that we can’t guarantee – rock solid guarantee – the return of (Wiest), I’m not going to return the passport at this time.”
Per AL.com, Wiest plead guilty to charges of “first-degree felony criminal mischief, desecration of a venerable object and public intoxication” last week, and the parties reached a plea agreement that included a $1,000 fine plus standard court costs.
Margaret Brown who serves as the court-appointed representation for Wiest reportedly said that he would like to return home. The damage caused by Wiest is reported to have been estimated at over $20,000, a number which Wiest’s representation reportedly has on hand in the form of a cashier’s check if needed.