The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

December 25, 2012

DA, church members pleased with Muse's bail stipulations

— The man accused of vandalizing Hatchett Cemetery will be spending the holidays reunited with his family after spending more than three weeks in the Limestone County Jail.

Robert Allen Muse, 21, of Falkville, was released from custody Dec. 19, and was ordered by Limestone County District Judge Jerry Batts to refrain from returning to the county unless he has a court appearance or a meeting with his court-appointed attorney, Garry Clem of Athens.

Additionally, Muse is required to follow an 8 p.m. curfew and turn over possession of his Kawasaki motorcycle to his father, pending the outcome of his case.

Bail decreased

Clem successfully petitioned Batts to lower Muse’s bail from a $150,000 cash only bail to a $75,000 secure bail based on his client’s age, a low flight risk, the lack of a prior criminal record and the absence of violence in the alleged commission of the offense.

Muse was arrested Nov. 26 at the rural Morgan County home he shares with his parents. He is charged with three counts of first-degree criminal mischief after the cemetery was vandalized in three successive weeks in November.

Each charge is a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

During the Dec. 19 bail-reduction hearing, Clem said his client was kept in “solitary confinement” at the jail and was unwilling to fill out the necessary paperwork to receive any visitors during his 23-day stint in custody, including his mother and father.

“I’d say his health is good and his reputation is great, and there hasn’t been proof otherwise,” Clem said during the hearing in response to an inquiry by Batts.

DA response

His parents appeared as character witnesses during the hearing, and they agreed to immediately report a curfew violation. If any of the bail stipulations are violated, Muse’s bail would immediately be revoked.

District Attorney Brian Jones said his office expected the bail to be lowered, but he was satisfied with the bail stipulations.

“It is extremely common that once that initial (bail) is set and after the case is reviewed and the lawyers have reviewed,” Jones said. “Judge Batts made it very clear if someone doesn’t follow his instructions, he will revoke his bond.”

Jones said Muse’s motorcycle has a high amount of mileage accumulated within a short period of time.

“In a period of six months, he put in excess of 20,000 miles on (his) motorcycle, and we’re trying to ascertain where he was going … his parents did not know how far he had been until he had a wreck in Pulaski, Tenn.,” Jones said. “We didn’t want him riding the motorcycle up here and we’re perfectly satisfied it was turned over to his father.”

Multiple attempts to reach Clem for further comment were unsuccessful.

Jones said the next step is a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough probable cause to continue the case. He said he will take the case before a grand jury regardless of the outcome of the hearing.

A date has not been set for Muse’s next court appearance. Circuit Court Clerk Charles Page expects the next hearing to be scheduled late January or early February.

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