Prosecutor: Woman films neighbor splashing chemical on SUV
A Fort Bend County man has been convicted of a felony charge for damaging his neighbor's vehicles with lawn chemicals because of a running dispute over parking.
Mark Childs, 51, of the Fresno area, faces between 180 days to two years in a state jail facility and a fine up to $10,000 after being convicted last week of the criminal mischief charge. A punishment hearing has been set for Aug. 2 in state District Judge Thomas Culver's court in Richmond.
Prosecutor Amanda Bolin said a dispute between Childs and next-door neighbor Elizabeth Pena began when Childs parked his vehicle in a small space of the cul-de-sac between their homes.
Concerned that Child's vehicle partially blocked her driveway, Pena called police several times without getting a resolution. She then began parking her Ford Excursion in the spot. Childs also called police but the issue wasn't solved.
Pena installed a video surveillance camera to monitor the disputed location and continued to call police whenever the spot was taken. Childs responded with "belligerence" and "name-calling," Bolin said.
While working in his yard on Jan. 20, 2010, Childs sprayed a lawn chemical on Pena's Ford Excursion, an incident that was captured on video by Pena's surveillance camera.
As the paint damage began to show a few days later, Pena located the surveillance video footage that showed what Childs had done and called police. She later had her vehicle repaired for more than $2,500.
The same day, Pena found her other car parked in the disputed spot also sprayed with a chemical. As soon as she smelled the odor, she washed the vehicle. That incident was also captured on the video, according to the Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office.
"This is one of those cases where the actual act is not particularly heinous, but could have seriously escalated or become violent had the criminal justice system not intervened when it did," Bolin said.
"Ms. Pena did exactly what we encourage citizens to do when they find themselves in these situations – document everything and call the police for help instead of taking matters into your own hands."
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