Three southern Minnesota men in their late teens have been charged with chopping down several trees near Faribault High School and the neighboring soccer complex, including one planted as a memorial to a student who died in 2009.

Charged by summons on Friday in Rice County District Court with felony first-degree property damage are Isaac J. Chavie, 19, and Cody K. Schuette, 18, both of Morristown, and Christian J. Morales, 18, of Faribault. All three have attended the school.

On May 4, a city employee discovered that five trees, including a maple planted after the death of high school junior Nicholas Paulson, had been cut and left behind. The city put the replacement value of the trees at $3,000.

Surveillance video led police to the suspects.

According to the prosecution:

The surveillance video revealed a pickup truck belonging to Schuette's family arriving in the high school parking lot about 12:20 a.m. and then about 20 minutes later in the soccer complex's parking lot.

A police search of the pickup turned up a folding camp saw with fresh tree shavings. Schuette, questioned a week later, admitted to participating in cutting down the trees. Schuette said he used a saw and Chavie swung a hatchet, while Morales was with them.

Morales said to police that he told the other two several times that night that he wanted to leave and also "tried telling them that the tree with the plaque meant something," referring to the one planted in Paulson's memory, the charging documents read.

All three have July 13 court dates scheduled.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482