CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Logan County prosecutor has dropped charges against a 14-year-old middle school student who refused to comply when a teacher ordered him to remove his National Rifle Association shirt last April.Jacob Marcum's attorney, Ben White, and Logan County Prosecuting Attorney John Bennett reached an agreement to drop the charges on Thursday afternoon, White said Friday.Police had charged Marcum with obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor. Logan County assistant prosecutor Sabrina Deskins said Marcum had been disrespectful, continuing to talk even after a police officer, James David Adkins, ordered him to be quiet.Marcum must apologize to Adkins for being disrespectful, Deskins said.
According to White, the court held preliminary hearings a few weeks ago to hear testimony from Marcum, Adkins and the school principal.The testimony showed that the evidence did not warrant a criminal charge, White said.Bennett could not be reached for comment on Friday.
The lawyers reviewed transcripts and offered a "common-sense assessment on the facts," White said. They agreed that dropping criminal charges would best serve the justice system, he said.Marcum will not have a criminal record.On Friday, people gathered at the Logan County Courthouse to voice support for Marcum at a rally that White described as "positive and energetic.""Everyone seemed to rally around Jared's cause," White said.Marcum has attracted national attention since the original incident occurred. The teenager has said that he merely wished to exercise his right to freedom of speech, and that his shirt did not violate the school dress code, which bans clothing that features profanity, violence, discriminatory messages or sexually suggestive phrases. The dress code also prohibits advertisements for any alcohol, tobacco or drug product.The original incident occurred while legislators in Washington debated whether background checks should be included in gun-control legislation. The issue had prompted outrage from gun-rights activists, who rushed to support Marcum.School officials suspended Marcum for one day as punishment for disrupting classes.Reach Laura Reston at email@example.com or 304-348-5112.