A UC Riverside student who snatched a “Make America Great Again” cap off the head of a fellow student and accused him of advocating “genocide” by wearing it, then refused to return his property, was placed in a behavior modification program in lieu of jail, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Tuesday.
Edith Macias, 22, entered into a deferred entry of judgment agreement with the D.A.’s office following negotiations between her attorney and prosecutors. As part of the agreement, which Macias signed Friday, the defendant admitted a misdemeanor charge of petty theft.
She has 90 days to complete the program, during which she’ll have to attend at least one daylong group session that focuses on “cognitive behavioral therapy,” D.A.’s office spokesman John Hall told City News Service.
Macias has already submitted apology letters to both UCR and the victim, Matthew Vitale, as well as attended eight anger management classes, Hall said.
He said that if the defendant fails to complete the DEJ program, she’ll be sentenced to 10 days in county jail and three years probation. If she successfully meets her obligations, the charge against her will be dismissed, sparing her a criminal record.
Hall said the goal of the program is to minimize the time “low-risk, low-level offenders” spend in the justice system.
No future court dates have been set in the matter.
The cap theft went viral on social media last fall, with both Macias’ mobile phone video and the victim’s recordings circulated widely.
On the afternoon of Sept. 27, the defendant recorded herself grabbing the cap from Vitale’s head as he stood with associates at a campus event, minding his own business.
Macias attempted to run away, but Vitale quickly caught up to her and demanded that she relinquish his property. In the ensuing five to 10 minutes, the interchange continued, and Macias hurled profanity at Vitale, shouting that his red Trump presidential campaign hat represented “genocide of a bunch of people.”
“She stated that she wanted to burn the hat because of what it represented,” according to an arrest declaration filed by UCR police Officer Wade Stern. “Macias was yelling at him and saying he supports murder and genocide.”
Vitale recorded the rants on his phone while demanding “many times” that Macias return his cap, Stern said.
The defendant eventually walked into the Student Life Office, with Vitale close behind, and gave the cap to staff, telling them that it shouldn’t be permitted on campus. Office personnel returned the cap to Vitale and called police, culminating in Macias’ arrest.
She has no documented prior misdemeanor or felony convictions in Riverside County.
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