Two young men charged with felony offenses for their alleged roles in the theft of a fire extinguisher are on track for a criminal bench trial in Bulloch County the week leading up to Christmas.
Christian Armistead and Zachary Schiffman were charged in September 2020 with one count of Interference with Government Property. According to warrants signed by the Georgia Southern Police Department, the two allegedly committed the felonious act when they ‘participated in the theft of a fire extinguisher, property of Georgia Southern University, located on the first floor of the Southern Courtyard Building #2 and did intentionally damage said extinguisher beyond repair.”
Warrants suggest the act occurred between 12:15 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. on September 15, 2020. Georgia Southern Police arrested the parties in January 2021 and they posted bond shortly after their arrests.
District Attorney Daphne Totten presented the case to a Bulloch County grand jury in March 2021 and a true bill of indictment was returned. In March of 2022, the men waived the right to a jury trial and instead requested a bench trial before Superior Court Judge Ronnie Thompson. Thompson’s office placed the case on the December bench trial calendar back in October after the parties failed to reach a plea agreement.
While small fire extinguishers can cost $40-$60, commercial grade fire extinguishers are typically a few hundred dollars.
Under Georgia law, a charge of Interference with Government Property carries a sentence of one to five years, if convicted. The young men would be felons for life with a prohibition on voting and owning a firearm, among other things, unless sentenced under some other guideline.
Armistead is represented by defense attorney Joey Cowart and Shiffman is represented by defense attorney Gabe Cliett.