It started as a plan dreamed up Nov. 1 by two freshmen to smash pumpkins in a friend’s yard as a Halloween prank.
But the prank, which developed into the idea of igniting a firework in that friend’s yard, led to four arrests and charges that carried a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
One of the students involved, political science and pre-law freshman Nikolai Wasielewski, now faces a maximum of five years in prison for amended charges of conspiracy and accomplice after the fact, Assistant Ingham County Prosecutor Diane Smith said. A hearing was held Wednesday in East Lansing’s 54-B District Court to determine if Wasielewski, a Rossford, Ohio, resident, should face trial for the amended charges.
“We were just bored Sunday night after Halloween, sitting in our dorm room,” economics freshman Darby Dudley testified during the hearing. “We wanted to do something fun. It started with pumpkins and then it was, ‘alright, let’s get some fireworks.’”
Dudley and premedical freshman Olivia Hudson, who both were charged in connection with the incident, texted and called friends to join in on the prank. Wasielewski and communicative sciences and disorders freshman Sasha Savage, who also was charged, agreed to come along.
Dudley said during the hearing she selected three fireworks left from the Fourth of July from her house. She said she threw a golfball-sized mortar — called “very dangerous” by Michigan State Police bomb technician Scott Hasse — out of the window of her mother’s white Cadillac and into friend Eric Flatley’s Grove Street yard.
Hudson drove and Savage and Wasielewski watched from the backseat, Dudley said. She said she did not know what the firework would do.
Dudley, Hudson and Savage said in court they plan to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges and will face probation and community service and no jail time.
Wasielewski’s attorney, Mike Nichols, argued Wasielewski was “just along for the ride.” Hudson and Dudley would have done the prank regardless of whether Wasielewski came along, Nichols said.
Hudson testified she could not remember the specifics of the conversation in which she invited Wasielewski, a friend she met in the dorms, to join in the prank. He was not involved in the planning, she said.
“I mentioned fireworks, pumpkins, pull a prank on our friend, Eric,” she said. “He said, ‘yeah, I’m in.’”
Dudley said everyone in the car knew the plan was to light off a firework and no one protested. There was a “group consensus” to throw the smaller firework, she said.
Dudley said she covered the car’s license plate, which reads “I LOV MSU,” with napkins because Flatley might recognize it. As they drove away after the explosion, Wasielewski remembered the plate was covered and got out of the car to remove the napkins, Dudley said.
Dudley and Hudson said they could not remember what Wasielewski specifically said while the four were in the car. When asked by Nichols, both said “you could say” he was along for the ride.
“The conversation was, ‘this is going to be really funny, I wonder what they’re going to think,” Hudson said.
The explosion, which happened just before midnight Nov. 2, could be heard two blocks away at the police department, East Lansing police Officer Ryan Kuhn said.
Hasse said the firework could have severely injured or killed anyone standing in close proximity of it.
The firework sparked and caused a “really loud” noise that made Grove Street residents pour out of their homes, said nutritional sciences senior Kyle Quinn, who saw the explosion from where he was standing across the street.
Michael Ogilvra, a resident of the property where the firework was tossed, said he didn’t feel harassed by the explosion, which caused no noticeable damage to the yard.
“It wasn’t that big of a deal,” he said.
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After several hours of testimony, the hearing was adjourned to an unspecified date.
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