Six months following a prank that put WCU in the global spotlight, two individuals that pleaded guilty to dumping a dead bear on campus in October with Barack Obama campaign signs on its head, found out their fate today, Tuesday, Mar. 10.
Brothers Marvin Caleb Williams, of Wilksboro, who was 20 at the time of his arrest, and Mathew Colton Williams, who was 18, will spend two years on unsupervised probation and will pay court costs, as ruled by Jackson County District Court Judge Richlyn Holt. The Williams were each charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. A charge for committing a wild life act without a license or permit was dropped.
Neither Marvin nor Mathew Williams commented on the ruling or about the prank in court this morning and declined comment to the media after the hearing.
Their attorney, Kris Earwood, told the court that the brothers “deeply apologize” for the incident and were shocked that it was perceived as a political statement.
“This was just a very bad choice by two young boys,” said Earwood.
WCU Police had originally suspected a political motivation in the dead 75-pound bear cub that was found with Obama signs on its head at the roundabout in front of the H.F.R. Administration Building on Oct. 20 by Western Carolina maintenance workers. But Jackson County Assistant District Attorney Camila Wright told Judge Holt this morning that a further investigation revealed no political or racial motivation in the dumping of the dead bear. She added that the brothers were among a group of students that found the animal dead on the side of a road while on an October weekend camping trip.
An investigation last November by campus police, the U.S. Secret Service, and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, revealed the students returned home and unloaded their gear on Sunday, Oct. 19 and then went to a party at The Summit, an off-campus housing complex. The students went back to get the bear after the party and dumped it at the roundabout in front of the administration building. WCU Police believed the students grabbed an Obama campaign sign at the time and wrapped it around the bear’s head to stop bleeding from a wound.
The animal died as a result of being hit by a car, according to the investigation.
The brothers, who were kicked out of Western Carolina according to Earwood on Tuesday, are now attending a community college, the name of which was not released.
None of the students who were said to be involved with the Williams have been charged in connection with the incident, which the university had said last October included seven other students, one of which was African-American and two of whom were women.