Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

Marianne Campbell Smith , a Trumper from San Juan Capistroano, who refused to leave the Mother’s Market in Costa Mesa after employees noticed she was not wearing a mask asked her to do so, was convicted on Wednesday of trespassing. She will now have to do 40 hours of community service.

Smith claims that she cannot wear a mask due to an unknown health condition. She is a 57-year old registered nurse who is married to Morton Irvine Smith, a sixth-generation heir of the Irvine development family.

To date she is the only O.C. resident to end up in court for refusing to wear a mask, which is a local ordinance in that city. Face coverings have been required in public in Costa Mesa since April of 2020.

Smith was found guilty, by a jury, of guilty of misdemeanor trespassing and obstructing a business or its customers.

Judge John Zitny also sentenced Smith to pay a $200 fine. Smith was also ordered to stay away from the market’s Costa Mesa location for a year.

It was the first mask-related criminal conviction in a county known for its vocal minority of anti-maskers who have staged oceanfront protests and picketed government meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith continued to insist she was innocent as she walked out of the courthouse.

A Costa Mesa bar owner was also charged with disregarding COVID restrictions but that was was dismissed in August of this year.

The O.C. prosecutor told the jury that Smith went into the Mother’s Market to get attention. Surveillance video showed Smith inside the market waving at her fellow anti-mask protesters gathered outside.

Smith apparently was attending a rally to protest mask mandates on Aug. 15, 2020, when she and two other women entered the Mother’s Market in Costa Mesa.

Smith’s defense attorney, Frederick Fascenelli, said Smith was trying to buy chips and a salad when she was followed by store employees and a security guard who told her to put on a mask or leave.

She told them that she had a medical condition that prevented her from wearing a mask, he said.

However the store employees tried to accommodate Smith by offering to shop for her but she declined the offer then refused to leave the store after several requests by the store employees.

Smith was also carrying a sign at the time, under her arm, that read “Healthy people do not wear masks” on one side and “Economic Health = Public Health” on the other, according to video played in court.

When Smith tried to checkout with her groceries the store employees refused to serve her so she took the groceries and left $5 near the cash register, according to the security video footage. She was accompanied by second woman, Jennifer Marie Sterling, 56, of Laguna Beach. She was wearing a skirt with “Trump” written across it at the time.

At about the same time the anti masker protesters outside of the store began to move toward the store’s entrance, which resulted in the store employees locking the door. Smith proceeded to harass an elderly store customer. She told him, “You don’t have to be scared. It’s all a lie.”

Smith told the police officers, when they arrived at the store that she was “doing this for her cause and for our freedom.”

The anti masker protestors outside held signs that read, “Keep your politics off our faces” and “My body my choice.” They yelled that the officers were “fascists” and chanted “let her go.”

Sterling was also charged in the incident and pleaded no contest to an infraction as part of a plea deal. She was ordered to make a $50 donation to a COVID response fund for nurses. She was offered a chance to do community service instead but declined the offer.

The prosecutors argued that the case was not about masks but trespassing,

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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