A Bowling Green man pleaded guilty Tuesday to several charges that arose from the spray-painting of various politically charged messages on downtown buildings.

Javier Hernandez-Cerrito, 22, pleaded guilty in Warren Circuit Court to four counts of first-degree criminal mischief and one count each of second-degree criminal mischief and third-degree criminal mischief.

Hernandez-Cerrito admitted leaving the graffiti on Bowling Green Ballpark, the Daily News building, the Pushin building, the Morris Jewelry property, Fountain Square Park and property belonging to Bowling Green Public Works.

“I wrote several messages with spray paint,” Hernandez-Cerrito said in court. “I believe that some of them included messages along the lines of holding public leaders accountable as well as a question that I proposed along the lines of why does it take vandalism for people to be willing to listen.”

The messages were found May 21. One message left on the sidewalk in Fountain Square Park read, “A public park only for the rich who live on the square.”

Graffiti left on the Daily News’ building on College Street included messages such as “Report news not propaganda,” “Yellow journalism is not news” and “Free Palestine.”

Another message left downtown read “All lives cannot matter until Black lives matter.”

Surveillance camera footage showed images of the person appearing to leave the messages and the Bowling Green Police Department identified the suspect several days later.

Hernandez-Cerrito was indicted July 28 by a Warren County grand jury and arrested Oct. 8.

Under terms of the plea agreement, Hernandez-Cerrito was sentenced to two years in prison in the case and will be ordered to pay $4,178.54 in restitution to the entities named as victims.

At the time of his arrest, he was on probation stemming from a 2020 conviction for first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, and he will be directed to serve two years in prison on that case after finishing the two-year sentence related to the graffiti.

Hernandez-Cerrito’s attorney, Rebecca Doerr of the state Department of Public Advocacy, argued for probation ahead of being formally sentenced Tuesday by Warren Circuit Judge John Grise.

“This is a young man who I believe has aspirations to be active in his community, to be politically active and participate in the process,” Doerr said. “I think that he admits that he probably went about that the wrong way. We have talked about that, what is and is not an appropriate way to be an activist, that he would probably be more successful in his endeavors outside jail and doing them in a legal way. I believe he has good intentions and I believe that he understands the error of his ways.”

Warren County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Daniel “Tres” Miller opposed probation on the grounds that it would unduly depreciate the serious nature of the charges.

“He targeted four small businesses and two government entities that are really all there to serve the public,” Miller said. “It’s not any policy-making (entity), it’s public works and (city) parks and recreation ... to date I have not heard Mr. Hernandez-Cerrito have any remorse for his actions whatsoever.”

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.

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