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Woman accused of refusing to wear mask in California store is convicted of trespassing

·2 min read

A woman accused of refusing to wear a mask inside a grocery store last year was convicted on Wednesday of trespassing and sentenced to 40 hours of community service and a $200 fine, media outlets report.

Marianne Campbell Smith, 57, was arrested at the grocery store Mother’s Market in Costa Mesa on Aug. 15, 2020, The Orange County Register reported.

Before entering the store, Smith participated in an anti-mask protest outside, prosecutors said.

Eric Katz, the manager of the store at the time, testified that Smith then entered the store with two other women who were also unmasked. He said the three women ignored him when he repeatedly asked them to either wear masks or leave the store, The Mercury News reported.

According to prosecutors, other people from the anti-mask protest began to enter the store, leading employees to shut the doors and escort customers out of the store, City News Service reported. Smith tried to buy a salad and a bag of chips, but the cashier refused to ring her up, prosecutors had said.

Smith left $5 by the register and attempted to leave after police entered the store, City News said. She and one of the other two women, Jennifer Marie Sterling, were arrested. The third woman who entered with them seemingly left the store before police arrived, The Orange County Register reported.

Prosecutors told City News that before leaving the store, Smith told a customer wearing a mask not to be scared and that “it’s all a lie,” referring to mask-wearing.

Sterling later accepted a plea deal, agreeing to donate to a COVID-19 relief fund and to admit to an infraction for not obeying a police officer’s orders to leave the store, Tthe Associated Press reported.

Smith was charged with two misdemeanors: trespassing and obstructing a business or its customers. In addition to community service and the fine, she was given an informal yearlong probation and asked to stay away from the grocery store, according to The Orange County Register.

“Justice was not served, but I accept it,” Smith said, according to the AP. “Because it was important to talk about these issues today.

In a statement delivered in court before sentencing, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said Smith wanted to “make this about masks and freedom” when the trial was actually about a private business complying with local health orders, according to the AP.

“Instead she bullied her way around the store and yelled at masked elderly shoppers that they were part of a government conspiracy,” Spitzer said.

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