SALEM — The Lorax would not be happy with John Everett.
Back on the afternoon of Oct. 11, Everett, 31, of 97 Webb St., Salem, was waiting on the Salem Common, one of the nation's oldest parks, for a friend to come so they could go do some construction work, he told police. He had his father's tools with him.
But while he was waiting, Everett allegedly decided to start chopping a tree with an ax. He had chopped out a softball-sized chunk of the bark when police arrived, according to a police report.
Everett could not give officers a reason why he'd started chopping at the tree.
"He wasn't in a right frame of mind," his attorney, Ted McNaught, said in Salem District Court on Tuesday.
Everett was arrested on charges of vandalizing property (later reduced to malicious destruction) and destruction of a tree. The latter charge was dismissed on Tuesday, after McNaught argued in a motion that the tree was not destroyed.
Police had a city arborist, Robert LeBlanc, inspect the tree after the incident, according to a police report. He concluded that the damage was not immediately life-threatening, but said he could not rule out future effects on the health of the tree.
The ax was seized as evidence and Sgt. Gil Priddy took photos of the damage. The rest of the tools were turned over to Everett's father.
Everett was also arrested that day on two Lynn District Court warrants related to shoplifting and possessing burglarious tools and is now serving a sentence. For that reason, prosecutors opted on Tuesday to generally continue the malicious destruction charge for six months. The disposition did not require Everett to admit wrongdoing.
Because Everett is in custody on the Lynn cases, Judge Carol-Ann Fraser did not set any conditions of the general continuance. If he stays out of further trouble, the case will be dismissed in six months.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.