The saying “Don’t mess with Texas” was just re-popularized via the hefty sentence handed down to a young man who may have made the biggest mistake of his life. The Alamo holds a great place in history and is considered particularly sacred to the residents of El Paso, TX. The structure itself, made of limestone, dates back to the 1700s. It is the famous site of the Battle of the Alamo, a mission building where Texas patriots fought against an onslaught of Mexican troops, succumbing to defeat in March of 1836. The term “Remember the Alamo” later became the famous battle cry which led the Texas Army to an ultimate victory over Mexican soldiers. It is a phrase, often said with pride and passion. Now, the Alamo is sure to be “remembered” by 23-year-old Daniel Athens, who urinated on the edifice while intoxicated.
On the evening of April 14, 2012, an Alamo ranger saw something he probably never expected nor hoped he would witness in his lifetime. Around 9:30 pm, Daniel Athens was spotted in an unauthorized zone on the outside of the historic landmark. Although the area was roped off, Athens managed to get quite close to the facade. At the time the ranger encountered him, he noticed Athens placing his penis back into his pants, as if he had just urinated. Allegedly, Athens was intoxicated. Reports describe the 23-year-old as wobbly and smelling of alcohol. It was upon further inspection that the Alamo ranger discovered a puddle of urine in the area where Athens had been standing.
Perhaps, had Daniel Athens chose a less celebrated landmark to relieve himself, he may never have been caught, nor would he be facing a serious sentence. Perhaps someone should have told the young lad not to get drunk and pee on Texas shrines that are revered among many state and U.S. residents. Unfortunately for Athens, he must now learn things the hard way. Having urinated on the walls of such a hallowed site, he will undoubtedly remember the Alamo as he sits in jail for the next 18 months. This past Monday, State District Judge Ray Olivarri handed down the sentence after defendant Athens pleaded guilty to the felony charge of criminal mischief. Moreover, Athens is required to pay $4,000, which will go to reparations of the facade.
The limestone makeup of the Alamo structure does not easily repel bodily fluids such as urine. According to the state of Texas, who must undoubtedly be steaming over the matter, urine’s salt content actually causes erosion of the limestone. Therefore, cleaning up the “mess” is not a simple task. It has become apparent that a random act of drunken behavior is not always without major repercussions.
However, Athens may want to consider himself lucky. Normally, crimes such as his are punishable by up to two full years in prison. That is more than often required in cases of involuntary manslaughter. It seems his guilty plea deal may have shaved down the time a bit. He will now be forced to sit in his cell for 18 months, as there is no possibility of parole. Now, Daniel Athens, a man who urinated on the cherished walls of the Alamo, can expect himself to be remembered for truly inconveniencing and vexing the state of Texas.
Opinion by Josh Taub