Man Accused of Spray-Painting Hateful Graffiti Seeks Mental Health Treatment – NBC Palm Springs – News, Weather, Traffic, Breaking News
INDIO (CNS) – A judge is expected to decide Tuesday whether a man who allegedly sprayed racist and anti-LGBTQ graffiti and caused other property damage to a Palm Springs community center will avoid jail time and instead seek mental health treatment .
Charinda Godakanda, 46, from Palm Springs, is accused of destroying the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center in Desert Highland Park and a charging station for electric cars in early July. The repair costs totaled $ 4,176, according to court records.
The defendant remains on bail for $ 10,000 after pleading guilty of no guilty party counting of the major theft and carrying a hidden dagger or dagger, both felony and two cases from vandalism.
Defense attorney David Greenberg said the Riverside County Attorney’s Office agreed not to contest the defendant’s request to start a mental health diversion program. State legislation, which came into force in 2018, allows defendants with diagnosed mental disorders to undergo treatment and other surveillance instead of criminal proceedings.
Upon successful completion of the program, the charges would be dismissed and the arrest records would be sealed.
Greenberg, who refused to comment on his client’s mental health issues, estimated that treatment could take about a year. Greenberg also said his customer paid to repair the damage.
Palm Springs city spokeswoman Amy Blaisdell confirmed the city received a check from Godakanda for $ 4,176.93 in early September.
“The graffiti has been removed and the EV charging station has been fixed,” she said. “As far as we know, there was no apology.”
A statement in support of the warrant issued by Detective Francisco Salgado of the Palm Springs Police Department said the officers were sent to 480 Tramview Road at around 5 a.m. on July 7 after a reported fire in the area .
The arriving officers did not find a fire, but found Godakanda, who “made spontaneous statements that he broke the window and wrote his wife’s name on the building,” the statement said. He also told officers that he owned a nearby shotgun that was later classified as stolen.
The officers then discovered words written with black spray paint on the outside of the community center, including “#alllifemattersfoools”, # Not just black and white or yellow or pink underground idiots and “I am against Igbtq uryza, ask Melissa delho”, it says in the declaration.
The officers also found a broken glass door, a shotgun and an airsoft gun nearby and observed black spray paint on the defendant’s hands, according to the detective.
The investigation stemmed from another vandalism reported by authorities in a shop on Via Negocio 1800 that caused about $ 350 in damage.
Jarvis Crawford, community center manager, said tires and stones were thrown at the facility, which at the time had been closed for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several windows were also broken, he said at the time.
After his arrest, Godakanda emailed the local media apologizing for the vandalism and citing his ongoing mental health problems.
“My disfigurement of the center like me is incomprehensible and unjustifiable to me,” he wrote. “I am so embarrassed and so sorry for my actions.”
Godakanda has no documented criminal convictions in Riverside County.