Plea deal reached, MLK statue vandal released from Sangamon County Jail

A man charged with vandalism of the Martin Luther King Jr. statue in downtown Springfield is out of Sangamon County Jail on a plea deal.

Approaching a year since the Sept. 11, 2022 toppling of the statue, Fernando Garcia owes the state approximately $10,500 in restitution. Garcia, 25, has already accrued $9,690, earning $30 a day for his time spent behind bars according to county court records.

Reaching the deal late last month, Garcia's 30-day conditional discharge will end Aug. 30. His case had been continued twice after doctors determined he was mentally unfit and later was admitted to Elgin Mental Health Center per WAND TV News.

Seventh Judicial Circuit Court Associate Judge Jennifer Ascher had previously set his bond at $50,000 with a charge of criminal damage to government-supported property.

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Only the base of the MLK statue, located on the corner of Capitol Avenue and Second Street, remains on site while the 300-pound bronze figurine has been taken to a state warehouse in Springfield.

The future of the statue, whether it returns to Freedom Corner or is moved within the Capitol grounds, is unknown. Some lawmakers and former Secretary of State Jesse White have called for a new statute in recent years.

The fiscal year 2024 budget includes $500,000 going to the Architect of the Capitol for the "acquisition, placement and maintenance" of the statue. This appropriation is in addition to one made for the same amount during the lame duck session earlier this year.

The existing King statue, sculpted by Geraldine McCullough, was unveiled 35 years ago and displayed in the Capitol rotunda until it was moved outside the Illinois State Museum in 1989.

In 1993, the statue was moved to Freedom Corner. King is the only non-Illinoisan to be honored with a statue on the grounds of the Capitol Complex.

Contact Patrick Keck: 312-549-9340, pkeck@gannett.com, twitter.com/@pkeckreporter

This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Plea deal reached; MLK statue vandal released from Sangamon County Jail