Pamela Karnavas, a 10th grade English teacher at Lake Highlands High School, took the morning off to be in the court of Judge Lana Myers -- for the sentencing of two students who not only got the teacher inadvertently stoned but sent her to the hospital in May 2006. Ian Walker, a student at Bishop Lynch, and Joseph Tellini, a student at Lake Highlands, admitted they were responsible for baking marijuana into muffins and leaving them in the teachers’ lounge at Lake Highlands as a prank. But the prank turned dangerous when 19 of the staffers who munched on the muffins got so sick that they ended up in the emergency room.
“It affected me for 10 days,” Karnavas told Unfair Park today. “I had never had marijuana before. It made me paranoid.”
Though there were 19 victims, the two boys, then 18 years old, were charged with five felony counts of assault on a public servant, which could have resulted in up to 10 years in prison. Tellini pleaded guilty to two second-degree felony charges of “tampering with a consumer product” and three misdemeanor charges of assault by “recklessly causing bodily harm.” Judge Myers accepted the plea bargain and assessed Tellini five years of community supervision. He must work a total of 180 hours in a homeless shelter and pay restitution of $13,094 to five of the victims, to be split with his co-defendant.
Walker pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor assault charges. He received two years of community supervision, 80 hours of service in a homeless shelter, and was ordered to pay his share of the restitution.
If they meet the terms of their sentences, they will receive deferred adjudication. They will have no criminal record, but nothing will erase their identity as the “muffin boys” on the Internet.
Both men read letters of apology.
“There is no plausible way to defend causing pain and discomfort to others for one’s own laugh,” Tellini said in a lengthy letter that said he wanted to convince fellow students of “my own stupidity.”
Tellini was assessed harsher punishment, according to prosecutor Courtney Hopping, because he planned the prank and baked the muffins. Walker delivered them to the school.
“I guarantee everyone that this experience has opened my eyes to the real world,” Walker said in court. “In the year and a half since this has happened I have found myself reevaluating every action I take, from walking across the street to the friends I surround myself with. The definite positive thing I can take away from this is that I have learned a great deal from it and will never do anything remotely illegal again.”
Hopping said the letters would be published in each school’s newspaper. Hopping added that the episode cost the school district $43,500.
Karnavas says she was satisfied with the outcome of the case. It was at her suggestion that the boys were ordered to work in homeless shelters.
“I loved the way the judge talked to them,” Karnavas told Unfair Park. Myers had lectured both and told them she never wanted to see either in her court again.
But Karnavas says students still laugh about the episode of the marijuana muffins. She plans to talk to her students about what happened in the courtroom and the impact it will have on Walker’s and Tellini’s lives.
“A lot of them still regard it as a prank,” Karnavas says. “If they still think it’s a prank they might do something stupid too. That’s why I’m here.” --Glenna Whitley