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Court opts for restitution over sentence for man who tried to break into middle school

(Updated at 9:45 a.m. on 3/2/23) The man who tried to force his way into a locked-down middle school last June won’t be charged — but this clemency comes with conditions.

Alexander Sentayhu, who was charged with property destruction after he unsuccessfully tried to breach Thomas Jefferson Middle School, was given a deferred disposition rather than a sentence. That means he has a series of conditions to meet in order to have the charge dismissed.

Believing there was an active school shooter inside, he called 911 and indicated he was armed and trying to get inside to pick up his relatives, Arlington County Police Department said at the time. Sentayhu kicked the glass door, breaking it, and tried unsuccessfully to open it. He left before police arrived.

The building had been secured and locked to the outside due to a robbery at a 7-Eleven store nearby, but anxieties about school violence were heightened around this time following the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Sentayhu turned himself in, was charged with Destruction of Property and released on bond while the General District Court reviewed his case. He was 25 at the time of his arrest.

The outcome of Sentayhu’s case is known as a “deferred disposition,” and it is an authority is granted to the court in Virginia code, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti.

“He was required to fulfill conditions such as restitution and treatment, designed to ensure accountability and rehabilitation,” Dehghani-Tafti tells ARLnow.

The court reviewed his progress toward meeting these conditions during his appearance on Feb. 16 of this year.

“He successfully met those conditions and the resolution was supported by the parties involved,” she said.

Dehghani-Tafti did not elaborate as to what those conditions were.

Like probation, deferred dispositions usually come with conditions, according to an explainer by the Virginia State Crime Commission.

“In general, deferred disposition permits a court to withhold imposition of a sentence and place conditions on the defendant that, when met, allow for the charges to be dismissed,” it says. “Upon the satisfactory completion of all conditions, and if no other criminal offenses are committed during the period of deferment, the original charge may be dismissed.”

Sentayhu was previously in the news in early 2020, after he incurred steep medical costs while suffering a significant heart issue, and later after speaking at a White House press conference with Vice President Kamala Harris about the issue of medical debt.

Last week someone using an email account under Sentayhu’s name emailed ARLnow demanding that we “DELTE OR PERMANENT DELETE this FALSELY reported article ASASP,” in apparent reference to the report about his arrest. The email included a court record showing that the charge against him had been dropped.

They did not respond to emailed questions asking for his side of the story.

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