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Auburn man arrested for leaving flowers on fiancé's grave found guilty

An Alabama judge has found a man guilty of criminal littering for leaving flowers on his fiancé's grave. (Source: WTVM)
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 8:40 PM CDT
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AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - We have new details on a case we’ve been following for weeks. An Auburn man gained national attention after being arrested for leaving flowers on his fiancée’s grave.

The arrest warrant for Winston Hagans had a charge for littering after he left a flower box on his fiancée’s grave. Earlier today, the judge heard both sides on if a flower box should be considered litter or not.

In court during Thursday’s bench trial, Judge Jim McLaughlin found Hagans guilty of criminal littering after leaving flowers on his fiancée’s grave with a $50 charge for littering and a court fine of $250.

The defense plans to appeal the decision. However, the city prosecutor said there would be no jail time if Hagans agreed not to place any more boxes on the grave.

Winston, also known as Winchester Hagans, lost his fiancé, Hannah Ford, in a car crash in January 2021. She died one month after Hagans proposed.

Hagans says Hannah did not like cutting flowers from a florist. She preferred living flowers.

Hagans hand-made a flower box with real flowers and pictures of them together to be left on her grave at Auburn’s Memorial Park Cemetery.

That didn’t go over well with Hannah’s father, Dr. Tom Ford, who signed a warrant against Hagans and ultimately got him arrested for littering.

Ford says his brother-in-law Cliff Knight was the original owner of the grave site. However, after the fourth box out of the nine was placed without permission, Dr. Ford took ownership of the plot sight and discarded the box one after another.

Hagans said Hannah’s father never approved of the relationship, and today, he verbally admitted it when testifying in court. When asked by Hagans’ attorney if Dr. Ford ever approved of his daughter dating the defendant, Dr. Ford answered, “No, I did not approve.”

Hagans admitted he asked the city for permission to place the box on the grave and was told it would be okay unless the family objected. However, he did not expect to go to jail over it.

According to Auburn Parks and Recreation, “Settees, urns, boxes, shells, toys and other similar items may not be placed or maintained on any lot or grave.”

Sari Card, an administrative assistant with Auburn Parks and Recs, said she informed Hagans over the phone to stop replacing the boxes thrown away on the grave. Hagans was told that if he did not stop, there would be legal action that could lead to an arrest. However, she said Hagans did not care and would continue to make the boxes in honor of his fiancé'.

According to documents, Hagans was pulled over on January 4th for an expired tag. Officers ran his tag, only coming back to arrest Hagans stating there was a warrant out for his arrest put out by Dr. Tom Ford.

Later, Hagans attorney Jeff Tickal asked the judge to dismiss the case. He said there was missing information and confusion in the complaint saying flowers were not considered litter. Judge McLaughlin denied the request saying the flower box was a foreign substance that did not belong.

Judge McLaughlin directed him to pay a $50 charge for littering and a court fine of $250. Hagans will not be sentenced to jail but was told he will be if he places more flower boxes on his fiancée’s grave.

After the judge told Hagans to honor his fiancée in another way, he gave his condolences to Hannah’s family and Hagans.

There was no comment from Tom Ford on the situation. The city prosecutor could not comment either, as the case is under appeal. Again, Hagans plans to appeal, which will have 14 days to be finalized.

Hagans wants everyone to know he appreciates the support from the community.

For previous coverage of this story, you can click here.

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