The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

November 27, 2012

UPDATE: Alleged cemetery vandal faces triple charges

By Kim West

ATHENS — The Falkville man arrested Monday afternoon in connection with the Hatchett Cemetery vandalism case is facing additional charges.

Robert Allen Muse, 22, was charged with one count of first-degree criminal mischief after being arrested at 2 p.m. Monday by the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office at his father’s residence in Falkville, a small town in neighboring Morgan County.

Muse was charged with two additional counts of first-degree criminal mischief on Tuesday. Each charge is a Class C felony and carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

The cemetery, located in the Beulah Land community of southern Limestone County, was vandalized three times this month on Nov. 8, 15 and 23. A majority of the approximately 200 graves were damaged multiple times.

During the third round of vandalism last Friday evening, surveillance cameras installed by the Sheriff’s Office allegedly photographed Muse at the cemetery. A sheriff’s deputy who had pulled Muse over on a traffic stop near the cemetery Nov. 22 identified Muse in the photo, according to Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely.

The man in the surveillance photo had shaggy sandy-colored hair. Blakely said Muse’s father recognized his son in the photo released to the media during the investigation and took him to get a haircut. At the time of Muse’s arrest, his hair was closely cropped.

The sheriff said Muse immediately requested an attorney and has not spoken to investigators. The case is still under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office.

Muse has no criminal record in the town of Falkville, said an official with the Falkville Police Department.

Muse is being held at the Limestone County Jail and is awaiting a bond hearing.