Heartbroken Alabama man fined for placing boxes of flowers on his fiancée’s grave

An Alabama man has been convicted of criminal litter and must pay $300 for repeatedly placing boxes full of flowers on the grave of his fiancée, whose father did not like the gifts or approve of their relationship.

Winston “Winchester” Hagans was sentenced Thursday by a court in Auburn after Reverend Tom Ford, Hannah Ford’s father, signed a warrant for his arrest.

Hannah died in a wreckage in January 2021, about a month after she became engaged to Hagans, according to The Opelika-Auburn News.

Hagans repeatedly placed small planters of flowers on her grave, and her father repeatedly removed them.

Under Alabama law, citizens can obtain arrest warrants from municipal courts under certain circumstances.

Winston ‘Winchester’ Hagans was convicted of criminal litter and ordered to pay approximately $300 after placing flower boxes on his fiancée’s grave since her death in January last year

Reverend Tom Ford, father of Hannah Ford, who died in a car accident, repeatedly removed the flower boxes before signing a warrant for Hagans' arrest

Reverend Tom Ford, father of Hannah Ford, who died in a car accident, repeatedly removed the flower boxes before signing a warrant for Hagans’ arrest

Hagans (left) and Ford (right) were engaged just a month prior to the fatal car accident

Hagans (left) and Ford (right) were engaged just a month prior to the fatal car accident

Tom Ford testified that a total of 10 boxes have been placed on the grave since May 2021 and he has either discarded them or returned them to Hagans.

“The first box, when I saw where it was, I picked it up and it fell apart,” Ford said. “It was a rotten piece of wood with some pictures on it, so I threw it away.”

Ford said he “definitely did not approve” of the relationship between his daughter and Hagans.

The cemetery is owned by the city, and prosecutor Justin Clark said the rules prohibit “benches, urns, boxes, shells, toys and other similar items” on graves.

City worker and cemetery administrative officer Sari Card said she told Hagans Ford did not want the boxes on the grave and was planning legal action.

“He said he didn’t care, that every time a box was removed, he would make a new one to replace it,” she said.

Hagans made window boxes for Ford, as she preferred live flowers to those already cut to form bouquets

Hagans made window boxes for Ford, as she preferred live flowers to those already cut to form bouquets

Hannah Ford, a Republican, had a career in state politics, working for Roy Moore's 2017 Senate race and Scott Dawson's 2018 campaign for governor.

Hannah Ford, a Republican, had a career in state politics, working for Roy Moore’s 2017 Senate race and Scott Dawson’s 2018 campaign for governor.

Hagans made window boxes for his betrothed, because she preferred live flowers to already cut flowers and as part of bouquets. He added photos of their time together on the side of these boxes.

While the defense argued that flower boxes are not litter, Judge Jim McLaughlin, who convicted Hagans in a non-jury trial, said the boxes were “a clear case of violation of this deed and violation of the litter statute.”

‘The box does not occur naturally in nature. It’s a strange substance. Whether it is beautiful or not is not a consideration for this court,” he said.

The defense said it would appeal the conviction to the Circuit Court, where a jury can hear the case.

Aside from a $50 fine and $251 in court costs, Hagans was sentenced to 30 days in jail that was suspended on the condition that he does not put additional flowers on the grave.

Hagans and Hannah Ford first met at a coffee shop in Montgomery, just an hour’s drive from Auburn, and connect through their Baptist faith, according to his website.

Ford's father, Reverend Tom Ford did not approve of his daughter's relationship with Hagans.  The pair first met at a coffee shop in Montgomery and bonded over their Baptist faith

Ford’s father, Reverend Tom Ford did not approve of his daughter’s relationship with Hagans. The pair first met at a coffee shop in Montgomery and bonded over their Baptist faith

Hannah’s career aspirations lied in state politics, the Washington Post reported. She had previously participated in Republican Roy Moore’s 2017 US campaign, which he lost to Democrat Doug Jones after he was accused of having sex with a woman at age 14.

Ford, who considered himself a Republican, campaigned for evangelist Scott Dawson’s campaign for governor in 2018. Dawson finished third in the primaries.

“She may have been small in stature, but she was a giant when she walked into a room,” Dawson told AL.com in a 2021 interview. “She knew how to deal with senators, MPs, judicial candidates. †

In her obituary, Hannah’s family said she had “a good heart, a happy attitude, great wisdom and many talents.”

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