Three accused of damaging property at St. Ignatius cemetery
Wednesday, February 06, 2013 3:57 AM
Three accused of damaging a headstone, several flower pots and grave ornaments at St. Ignatius Catholic Cemetery in Spring Valley in July 2011 will make their appearance in Fillmore County District Court on Feb. 11.
The accused are Brett Michael Alderman, 22, and Robert Blake Hughes, 24, both of Harmony; and Annie Laurie Ellis, 20, of Spring Grove. All three face the same charges, which consist of two counts of felony damage to cemeteries, gross misdemeanor damage to cemeteries, gross misdemeanor third-degree damage to property, and trespassing in a closed cemetery, which is also a misdemeanor.
The damage was discovered on the morning of July 28, 2011, by Mike Lee of Spring Valley, the caretaker of the cemetery, who reported it to then Fillmore County deputy sheriff/policy coordinator Kevin Beck. It was believed the damage occurred the night before.
A total of 13 flowerpots and grave ornaments were broken. The headstone for two members of the Babineau family was broken off of its base. The tombstone has since been repaired and the flowers and pots replaced.
At the time of the incident, Beck said, "It is hard for me to understand why someone would do such things as damage gravestones and flowers in a cemetery. Most people think of a cemetery as a sacred or hallowed place.
"We take great pride at what we do and hopefully we will be able to find out who did this and hold them responsible for their actions."
If convicted, the accused face two felonies, which carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both; and the gross misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in prison, a $3,000 fine, or both.