This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A man arrested this week on suspicion of damaging trees in West Jordan allegedly admitted to the destruction, but told police that "the trees hurt him first."
Wesley James Pettis, 24, of West Jordan was arrested Sunday, after police were called to an apartment complex on a report of a male who was acting suspiciously and noted that he closely resembled the description of the person suspected in a recent string of tree vandalism.
Pettis admitted to intentionally damaging trees, but told officers "the branches were low and hurting him, so he would break them," according to a probable cause statement filed with the Salt Lake County jail, where Pettis was booked.
"While breaking the branches, it would hurt his hands, so he damaged more of them," Pettis allegedly told police.
Pettis then pointed in the direction of some of the damaged trees and admitted to intentionally damaging at least four trees, the probable cause statement says.
No formal charges had been filed as of Wednesday against Pettis, who remained behind bars in lieu of $5,000 bail.
Since July 24, more than 60 trees in the area of 2200 West from 7800 South to 9000 South including Veterans Memorial Park have been deliberately damaged, police have said. Many of the trees were damaged so severely that they will need to be replaced.
Last week, the police department offered a $750 reward for help from the public in locating those responsible for what was deemed to be $40,000 in damage to trees.
A search of Utah court records shows Pettis was charged in June with class B misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, and in August with class C misdemeanor intoxication. Both cases are pending resolution.