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Charges dropped in cross burning case

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MORRISTOWN - All charges have been dropped in the case against Ryann A. Wilson, who was accused of burning a cross in his yard on April 29.

Mr. Wilson, 28, of 3 Shady Lawn Drive, Hammond, was arrested in early June by St. Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies and charged with felony first-degree aggravated harassment.

A grand jury was convened in the matter but did not indict Mr. Wilson. The case was closed and sealed on Aug. 8, according to St. Lawrence County Court Clerk Mary B. Curran. District Attorney Nicole M. Duve could not be reached for comment.

Nigel A. Spahr had accused Mr. Wilson of hurling racial slurs at him, threatening to lynch him and burning a cross in an act of intimidation. Mr. Spahr, who is black, was celebrating his birthday with friends at Katelyn Perretta’s apartment, next door to Mr. Wilson’s residence, at 5 Shady Lawn Drive on the night of the incident.

But Mr. Wilson said, “It was never a matter of race; it was a dispute, and I think alcohol was a big factor.”

“I’ve never been a racist,” he said. “I just want to move forward and I want the news to come out that it’s done.”

Mr. Wilson said Mr. Spahr was “extremely drunk” on the night of the incident and had been confronting him all night.

Mr. Wilson has had frequent disputes over property boundaries with Ms. Perretta’s landlord, Daniel C. Snyder, Mr. Spahr has said, explaining why he told Mr. Wilson not to come to the party.

But Mr. Spahr started the trouble that night by insulting Mr. Wilson’s wife, Amanda, according to Mr. Wilson.

“He was insulting my wife,” Mr. Wilson said. “He was calling her ‘a redheaded ginger,’ which to me is a form of racism.”

Mr. Spahr, a 2007 graduate of Morristown Central School and current resident of Gouverneur, has disputed claims that he insulted Mrs. Wilson. He could not be reached for additional comment for this article. Mr. Wilson said his wife asked how Mr. Spahr would like being insulted and used a racial slur in the process. Mrs. Wilson would not comment on her behavior during the incident.

Mr. Wilson also said that his wife was responsible for building the cross out of two large boards, but that she wasn’t able to stand it up and burn it because it was too big. She then “scrapped the idea,” Mr. Wilson said, and threw the cross in their outdoor fire pit “as firewood.”

“It was never burnt in front of them,” Mr. Wilson said, referring to Mr. Spahr and his friends. “It was laid down in the fire. I had a fit that she was burning that, for one, because it was $30 in lumber.”

Mr. Spahr previously claimed to have witnessed the cross burning from a window of Ms. Perretta’s apartment.

Ms. Perretta said Mr. Spahr refuses to come over to her apartment after the incident and said she doesn’t understand how the case was dropped.

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