WASHINGTON — A Chinese woman arrested in connection with the spattering of city landmarks with green paint appeared Friday in D.C. Superior Court, where a judge released her from jail into a halfway house.

Jiamei Tian, 58, who police believe is homeless, faces one count of defacing property. She was arrested Monday at Washington National Cathedral shortly after authorities discovered paint splashed in the cathedral’s Bethlehem Chapel and Children’s Chapel.

Similar acts of vandalism were discovered at the Lincoln Memorial, on the granite base of a statue next to the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall, and on a statue of Martin Luther and in Luther Place Memorial Church on Northwest Washington’s Thomas Circle.

Tian has been charged only in connection with the incidents at National Cathedral, but a District of Columbia police detective testified Friday that the tread from one of her shoes matched a paint footprint found at the Lincoln Memorial. The detective, Wai Tat Chung, testified that Tian was wearing an “unusual” shoe — “one that can’t be bought in America.”

Against prosecutors’ objections, D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge Frederick J. Sullivan ordered Tian released from the District of Columbia jail and into a halfway house. Sullivan also ordered her to be electronically monitored and not to leave on social visits while at the halfway house.

The damage at the Lincoln Memorial was reported about 1:30 a.m. July 26 by people out for a stroll. One of the people told The Washington Post that she discovered two 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottles overflowing with green and white paint as well as white footprints near the inscription of the Gettysburg Address.


The National Park Service reported Thursday that the cleanup at the memorial is nearly complete.

Repairs at the cathedral could take longer. Damage estimates are still coming in: $3,000 in one chapel and $15,000 in another, with tricky work to repair a paint-spattered reredos, or altarpiece, covered with gold leaf. According to court documents, the gold leaf must be removed to make the repair, but that could cause additional damage.

One of Tian’s attorneys, Mani Golzari, argued that there was no evidence that the financial estimates of the damage were accurate. For Tian to be charged with a felony and not a misdemeanor, the damage must be greater than $1,000.

Golzari told the judge that no witnesses told police that they saw his client toss paint. He also tried to cast doubt on his client’s guilt by suggesting the possibility of other suspects.

Tian sat between her attorney and a Mandarin translator. At one point during the hearing, Tian leaned over, smiled and mouthed “thank you” to one of her attorneys.

Washington police have seized Tian’s Chinese passport, one detective testified. Her visa to visit the United States expired last month. Her next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 27.

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