The Anniston Star

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December 28, 2014

Oxford Mall preacher given youthful offender status, records sealed

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Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 5:51 pm | Updated: 12:41 pm, Mon Jul 7, 2014.

OXFORD — An Anniston man’s trespassing charge, stemming from an impromptu sermon he gave outside Quintard Mall in June, came to a conclusion Tuesday, but the outcome was not clear.

Canaan Elkins, 19, and his 15-year-old brother, Landon Elkins, were arrested June 15 outside of Quintard Mall by Oxford police and charged with trespassing.

Oxford Municipal Court Judge Stanley Allen at Tuesday’s court hearing granted Canaan Elkins youthful offender status, which lessens penalties and seals a person’s court records. Allen cleared the courtroom Tuesday before ruling on the case.

Elkins, who lives in Anniston and pastors Muscadine Holiness Church in Ranburne, said he and his brother spotted a carnival in the parking lot of Quintard Mall the Sunday they were arrested, and decided to stop and preach to carnival-goers. The mall was closed when the pair arrived.

Both brothers say they weren’t contacted by mall security before police arrested them, and they say they weren’t told they were preaching on private property until they arrived at the police station.

Police and mall staff told The Star previously that the brothers were informed they were on private property, and were asked to stop preaching and leave. When they refused, both were arrested, Oxford police Capt. L.G. Owens said at the time.

Adam Maniscalco, Oxford’s prosecutor, said after the hearing that he could not discuss the details of the case, citing Elkins’ youthful offender status.

Ted Copland, Elkins’ attorney, said after the hearing that he could not comment on the outcome, but that “there will not be a conviction in this case. The agreement is in the best interest of both parties.”

Copland said there were differences between what mall security told the judge Tuesday and what was written in the police report, and that he has every reason to believe Elkins’ version of the incident.

Attempts late Tuesday to reach mall administrators for comment were unsuccessful.

“We’ll find out where he is allowed to preach, so that he doesn’t have this problem anymore,” Copland said.

Landon Elkins’ court date is not a matter of public record, as he is a minor.

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