AUBURN — Calling their actions "stupid" and "horrific," a judge Thursday sentenced two of four Lewiston men involved in knocking down more than 100 headstones and monuments at Riverside Cemetery last year. The vandalism caused nearly $41,000 in damage.
Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy told Jesse Macia, 18, of Lewiston that his participation in the vandalism was stupid. "It was unacceptable," she said. She called his conduct "horrific" and said it was "incredibly foolish behavior."
Macia pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal mischief, a felony. He was sentenced to two years in prison, with all but 63 days suspended, time he has already served in jail. On a misdemeanor charge of interference with a cemetery or burial ground, he was sentenced to 63 days in jail, to be served concurrently with the other sentence. He also will be on probation for two years and must perform 100 hours of community service, the judge said.
During his probation, Macia will be barred from having contact with the other three defendants charged in connection with the Aug. 20 vandalism. He will be required to undergo drug and alcohol counseling and mental health evaluation.
Macia had a prior conviction from last year on a charge of disorderly conduct, a prosecutor said.
Another of the four men involved in the nighttime rampage was John Manchester, 21, of Lewiston.
Pleading guilty to the same charges as Macia, Manchester was sentenced to two years in prison with all but two days suspended on the felony charge and two days to run concurrently on the misdemeanor charge. He, too, was sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of community service with the same conditions, including gainful employment and completion of a GED course.
"I am very offended by your conduct," Kennedy told Manchester, as was the community. As with Macia, she said his actions were "stupid."
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Matulis told Kennedy that, had the cases gone to trial, he would have presented witnesses who would have detailed the facts behind the crimes.
Four men, including Macia and Manchester, met at Sunnyside Park on the evening of Aug. 20 and started drinking, they told police. They went to the neighboring cemetery where they began toppling headstones and monuments.
The next morning, a Lewiston police officer investigated the damage. The case was passed along to a detective. Acting on an anonymous tip, the detective learned that two of the men had been laughing about their actions. One of the four men had broken his shoulder that night. The detective noticed a group of men walking down the street, one of them cradling his arm in a sling. After quizzing them, he learned they were involved in the vandalism.
A third participant, Billie Coburn, 19, of Lewiston, pleaded guilty Wednesday to the same two charges and received the same sentence as Manchester.
The fourth defendant, Shane Haskell, 20, of Lewiston is seeking admission to drug court. His case was continued to April. A hearing on March 3 is scheduled to determine restitution for the four men.
In court on Wednesday, Kennedy read a long list of the names of those interred at the cemetery whose headstones or monuments were vandalized.
When Manchester said he'd had a couple of beers the night before his court appearance, Kennedy asked whether he had violated his bail conditions. He hadn't. She said she had "a problem with that," considering the four defendants were "very, very intoxicated" when they vandalized the cemetery.
Explaining the state's plea agreements for the men, Matulis said the defendants readily admitted their crimes and took full responsibility for their actions.