Sept. 11, 2013 — Derrick Hale, 26, of Grayson, was back in court last Thursday to plead guilty to four felony counts of violating graves.
The change in pleas resulted from an offer extended by Commonwealth's Attorney Brandon Ison and means that Hale will serve 15 years for the crimes.
“This was an extremely stiff offer because I felt it was very important to discourage this sort of behavior,” Ison said. “Cemeteries aren't normally guarded and we just can't allow that kind of conduct to go on.”
“I spoke with several veterans groups, including the VFW and American Legion, before extending the offer to Hale. They were all pleased with the agreement.”
Hale faced a maximum sentence of 20 years had he been found guilty in a jury trial.
This case dates to December 2011 when Grayson police received a complaint that four bronze and brass WWII grave plaques had gone missing from the Hill Crest Burial Park.
According to GPD Det. Roy Ison, Hale unsuccessfully attempted to sell the plaques to a local recycling center, which contacted authorities to report the incident.
Police used surveillance at the recycling center to identify a vehicle belonging to one of Hale's associates, information which quickly led to his arrest.
They were unable to retrieve the grave markers, however, which cost approximately $750 each.
Hale also is facing separate charges of second degree burglary, a Class C felony; third degree burglary, a Class D felony; receiving stolen property, a Class D felony; and three counts of second degree being a persistent felony offender.
He currently is lodged in the Carter County Detention Center while awaiting final sentencing.
Joe Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 286-4201.