SELMA, Ala. (AP) — A judge has delayed the trial of a New Orleans man charged with stealing a chair-shaped Confederate monument from an Alabama cemetery in a bizarre ransom scheme.
Jason Warnick had been scheduled to stand trial next month in Selma on charges of theft and receiving stolen property, but Dallas County Circuit Judge Collins Pettaway Jr. recently rescheduled the case until May 9 at the request of the defense, court documents show.
One of Warnick’s attorneys underwent surgery after being injured in a motorcycle crash and would have a difficult time traveling for the trial, the defense said in its request.
Warnick, 33, was charged last year following the theft of a chair-shaped memorial that was taken from a cemetery in Selma. Warnick is innocent, his attorney has said.
The case began last spring when news outlets began receiving emails with an unusual ransom demand involving a chair-shaped monument honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The memorial was placed in the cemetery by the United Daughters of the Confederacy about 130 years ago.
A message claiming to be from a group called White Lies Matter said the chair would be returned only if the heritage group agreed to display a banner at its Virginia headquarters bearing a quote from a Black Liberation Army activist. The email also included images of a fake chair with a hole cut in the seat like a toilet and a man dressed as a Confederate soldier.
New Orleans police said they found the real chair undamaged and arrested Warnick, who has a tattoo shop in New Orleans, and two others.
Louisiana prosecutors dropped a charge of possession of stolen property against Warnick and the others, but Alabama prosecutors are moving ahead with the case against Warnick.
The chair has since been returned to Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, where it was secured to its base with glue.