A March trial date has been set for an Alabama man who was arrested last month for littering after he placed a box of flowers at his fiancée’s grave in Auburn, according to reports.
Winchester Hagans lost his fiancée, Hannah Ford, in a car crash on January 17th, 2021, the same day the couple visited their future wedding venue in Notasulga, about 12 miles southwest of Auburn.
Hagans said he remembered kissing Ford good-bye as she prepared to drive home to Montgomery, about 45 miles away, WRBL-TV reported.
Ford, 27, died in a three-vehicle car crash shortly after. It was roughly one month after he popped the question.
"The last things I heard her say were, I love you, and I hate leaving you," Hagans told the station.
After her death, Hagans built a flower box filled with her favorite flowers and covered it with engagement pictures for placement at Hannah’s grave at Auburn’s Memorial Park Cemetery. He said he spoke with the city for the OK to place the flower box by her grave.
"The people of the city told me they don’t enforce that unless a family member asked for it to be removed," said Hagans, according to WTVM-TV.
Hagans noted the couple had a strained relationship with members of Ford's family, and someone kept throwing the flowers away. Hagans, who kept placing the flowers back, said Ford's family never directly told him to stay away or stop leaving the flowers.
However, last month, as Hagans was on his way back to preach at an east Alabama church, he was pulled over by police for having an expired tag. Hanna’s father, Hayden Ford, had apparently signed a warrant for Hagan’s arrest for criminal littering, according to the station.
"The officer came back and said there was a warrant out for my arrest, handcuffed me on the side of the road on a Sunday morning," said Hagans. "I just want to be able to put flowers on her grave."
Hagans said he wanted to honor Ford by leaving the flower box, noting he would build a thousand more if he could, WTVM-TV reported. The couple met in 2019 and got engaged in December 2020.
Auburn police released a statement to WRBL-TV after his arrest.
"In Alabama, certain burial plots are owned and controlled by the family of the deceased and therefore are private property. Any citizen has a right to pursue a criminal charge upon showing sufficient probable cause exists to believe a crime has been committed. The individual charged in this case turned himself in to the Auburn Police Department on January 24th, 2022, after a warrant was signed by another citizen," the statement read, in part.
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