James Gaines walks away from the bench after appearing in Judge David Bales' courtroom this morning for a preliminary hearing. At left is Executive Assistant District Attorney Neal Pinkston, while defense attorney Lee Davis is seen at right.Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
James Gaines won't serve any time for causing a Jan. 23 lockdown on the campus of Southern Adventist University after he joked that he might have to "strap a bomb on me" and "put a gun to their head" to get the transcript he needed from Southern.
Gaines faced a charge of making false reports, which can carry a three-year prison sentence. But at a hearing at 9 a.m. today before Hamilton County Superior Court Judge David Bales, Gaines agreed to continue counseling he already has begun, perform eight hours of community service and issue a letter of apology.
Gaines' attorney, Lee Davis, gave the judge the letter of apology in which Gaines apologized for his "flippant" comments that were meant as a joke.
Gaines will have a hearing in 90 days to make sure he's satisfied the requirements.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.