Ex-student pleads guilty in EMU racist graffiti case

The Detroit News

A former Eastern Michigan University student pleaded guilty Monday to painting racist graffiti on campus, school officials announced.

In Washtenaw County Circuit Court, Eddie Curlin admitted to three counts of malicious destruction of property stemming from several incidents in 2016 and 2017, EMU reported in a statement.

The first incident Curlin, who is African-American, was charged with included red, white and blue spray-painting of “KKK” and the n-word, along with “leave” on the side of King Hall. In another incident, a message was painted outside of Ford Hall, near the campus monument to Martin Luther King Jr., telling blacks to go home. Racist graffiti also was found inside a men’s restroom stall at Sherzer Hall.

Some initially believed the suspect was white. Curlin studied at the Ypsilanti school from 2014-16. An investigation found he “vandalized the buildings and then acted as an informant to police on the pretense of helping to solve the case in order to have the other previous criminal charges dropped and be allowed to return as a student to Eastern Michigan University,” school officials said.

While serving an unrelated prison sentence of up to five years for receiving stolen property, Curlin told The Detroit News he believed authorities had the wrong person in the racist graffiti allegations and that the claims made “zero sense.”

But during Monday’s proceeding, when Judge David Swartz asked Curlin if he was responsible, the 29-year-old responded: “Yes.”

Curlin also pleaded no contest to four counts of identity theft related to the investigation, EMU said.

In investigating the case, university police spent more than 1,080 hours, interviewed at least 60 people, reviewed some 1,200 hours of video and executed nearly 20 search warrants, the school said.

“I am pleased to see the outcome of excellent police work,” Chief Robert Heighes said Monday. “Our team, with the support of our public safety partners, worked tirelessly to solve this case and I thank everyone who helped us achieve a conviction.”

Curlin’s sentencing is scheduled for May 21.