The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

August 21, 2013

Trial set for accused cemetery vandal

By Kim West
kwest@athensnews-courier.com

— Court records show the Falkville man charged with three counts of first-degree criminal mischief for allegedly vandalizing Hatchett Cemetery is scheduled for trial Sept. 9.

Circuit Court Judge James Woodroof will preside over the trial for Robert Allen Muse, 21, of 1371 Wilhite Road. Muse was indicted April 11 by a Limestone County grand jury and first charged Nov. 26, 2012, for all three counts.

Muse is accused of vandalizing the cemetery in three successive weeks on Nov. 8, 15 and 23. Each count of first-degree criminal mischief is a Class C felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Muse, who does not have a prior criminal record according to Falkville Police, posted $75,000 bail in December after District Judge Jerry Batts lowered his original $150,000 cash-only bail. Batts stipulated that Muse follow an 8 p.m. curfew, turn over the Kawasaki motorcycle law enforcement said he used as transportation from Morgan to Limestone counties and refrain from entering Limestone except for court proceedings or to visit his court-appointed attorney, Garry Clem of Athens.

Clem was unavailable for comment when contacted by phone on Tuesday.

November damage

A church official recently told The News Courier that the cemetery, which is located in the Beulah Land community of southern Limestone County, has not received further damage from vandalism. Little Ezekiel Missionary Baptist Church maintains the cemetery and funded repairs through church funds and donations.

Many of the cemetery’s approximately 200 grave markers were chipped, uprooted, scratched or shattered, and eight of them were damaged so severely they had to be replaced.

Based on a survey by Ardmore Monument Company, Little Ezekiel deacon Thomas Townsend said the vandalism caused approximately $17,000 in total damages.