Auburn man arrested for leaving flowers at convicted fiancé’s grave

AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) – We have new details on a case we have been following for weeks. An Auburn man has captured national attention after he was arrested for leaving flowers at his fiancé’s grave.

The arrest warrant for Winston Hagans had a charge of littering after he left a flower box on his fiancé’s grave. Earlier today, the judge heard from both sides on whether a flower box should be considered waste or not.

In court at Thursday’s trial, Judge Jim McLaughlin found Hagans guilty of felony trash after leaving flowers on her fiancé’s grave with a $50 trash charge and a $250 fine.

The defense plans to appeal the decision. However, Tom Ford’s attorney said there would be no jail time if Hagans agreed to stop placing boxes at the grave.

Winston, also known as Winchester Hagans, lost his fiancée, Hannah Ford, in a car accident in January 2021. She died a month after Hagans proposed.

Hagans says Hannah didn’t like cutting a florist’s flowers. She preferred live flowers.

Hagans handcrafted a flower box with real flowers and photos of them together to be left at her grave in Memorial Park Cemetery in Auburn.

It didn’t go over well with Hannah’s father, Dr. Tom Ford, who signed a warrant for Hagans and eventually had him arrested for littering.

Ford says his brother-in-law Cliff Knight was the original owner of the tomb. However, after the fourth box of the nine was placed without permission, Dr. Ford took possession of the plot view and threw the boxes one after the other.

Hagans said Hannah’s father never approved of the relationship, and today he verbally admitted as much during his court testimony. When asked by Hagans’ attorney if Dr. Ford had ever approved of his daughter dating the defendant, Dr. Ford replied, “No, I didn’t.”

Hagans admitted to asking the city for permission to place the box on the grave and was told it would be fine unless the family objected. However, he didn’t expect to go to jail for this.

According to Auburn Parks and Recreation, “Sofas, urns, boxes, shells, toys, and other similar objects may not be placed or maintained on any land or grave.”

Sari Card, an administrative assistant with Auburn Parks and Recs, said she told Hagans by phone to stop replacing boxes thrown at the grave. Hagans was told that if he didn’t stop, there would be legal action that could lead to an arrest. However, she said Hagans didn’t care and would continue to make the boxes in honor of her finances.

According to documents, Hagans was arrested on January 4 for an expired tag. Officers ran his tag, only returning to arrest Hagans stating that there was a warrant issued for his arrest by Dr. Tom Ford.

Later, Hagans attorney Jeff Tickal asked the judge to dismiss the case. He said there was missing information and confusion in the complaint saying the flowers were not considered waste. Judge McLaughlin dismissed the claim saying the flower box was a foreign substance that did not belong.

Judge McLaughlin ordered him to pay a $50 littering fee and a $250 fine. Hagans will not be sentenced to prison, but has been told he will if he places more flower boxes on his fiancé’s grave.

After the judge told Hagans to honor her fiancé in another way, he offered his condolences to Hannah’s family and to Hagans.

There was no comment from Tom Ford on the situation. The city attorney could not comment either, as the case is on appeal. Again, Hagans plans to appeal, which will take 14 days to finalize.

Hagans wants everyone to know that he appreciates the community support.

For previous coverage of this story, you can click here.

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