AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – The east Alabama man found guilty of Criminal Littering for leaving potted flowers on his fiancée’s grave in Auburn has been arrested again, this time on allegations of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol.
Lee County Sheriff Deputies confirm that 32-year-old Winston Chester Hagans was pulled over by a Lee County patrol deputy on Lee Road 72 and 76 in Auburn, Alabama, and was arrested for DUI and booked into the Lee County Detention Facility on Tuesday, June 14th. News 3 has reached out to Hagans, his family, and his attorney for a statement. We will let you know when we hear back from them.
Hagans received support from all over the country after he was arrested and charged with Criminal Littering for leaving a handmade flower box on Hannah Ford’s grave who was 27-years-old at the time she died in a car crash, the same day the couple had chosen their wedding venue. Her death devastated Hagans.
Winchester was found guilty by a municipal judge during Thursday’s Bench trial on June 9th. The judge said in open court he was tasked with following the law, not emotion, and the flowers were a clear violation based on testimony and evidence. The judge also offered his condolences to Hagans, and the complainant, Dr. Tom Ford, for the loss of Hagans’ fiancé, who was Dr. Ford’s daughter. Hagans intends to file an appeal, which could lead to a jury trial.
In January of 2021, Hannah Ford was killed in a car crash. Hagans built a flower box covered with engagement pictures to place at Hannah’s grave at Auburn’s Memorial Park Cemetery. Hagans did not testify during Thursday’s trial but has said in the past the couple had a strained relationship with some members of Hannah’s family, and someone kept throwing the flowers away. Hagans kept rebuilding the box and putting the flowers back. Hagans says Hannah’s family never told him directly to stop leaving flowers.
In January of 2022, Hannah’s father, Dr. Tom Ford, signed a complaint against Hagans. Dr. Ford testified he did everything he could to avoid having the issue in court. Dr. Ford testified numerous flower boxes were placed on Hannah’s gravesite without his permission, and he located a camera in a nearby tree. Ford testified Hagans was advised not to place unauthorized items on the grave, but it didn’t stop.
A prosecutor with the city of Auburn showed the court the deed to the plot where Hannah rests belongs to her father, Dr. Tom Ford. They also presented evidence showing flower boxes were not allowed.
Sari Card, an administrative assistant with Auburn Parks and Rec responsible for maintaining the cemetery where Hannah is buried at Memorial Park, testified she informed Hagans on the phone. Dr. Ford wanted Hagans to stop putting the flower boxes on the grave. If Hagans did not, Card told him she thought Dr. Ford would take legal action and have him arrested. Card testified Hagans told her he didn’t care and he would continue making them.
Sunday, January 24th, Hagans was on his way to preach at an east Alabama church when police pulled him over for an expired tag. After running his tag, the officer came back and said there was a warrant out for Hagans’ arrest.
Hagans’ attorney Jeff Tickal asked the judge to dismiss the case, saying there were errors in the complaint and Criminal Littering was not an appropriate charge as flowers were not litter. The judge denied the defense’s request saying the flower box was a foreign object as defined in the code.
The Judge ordered Hagans to pay a $50 fine and $251 in court costs. Hagans was not sentenced to jail. The Judge also advised Hagans to find another location to honor his fiancé‘s memory that was not on somebody else’s property.
The city prosecutor could not comment because the case is under appeal. Dr. Tom Ford also declined to comment. Hagans and his attorney say they plan to appeal.
News 3 will let you know if we hear back from Hagans on the DUI arrest.