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Woman dismissed for overturning gravestones

Woman dismissed for overturning gravestones

Following the results of a mental evaluation, a judge on Monday ordered the release of an Oregon woman accused in March 2019 of tipping over 61 gravestones in Graham County.

The judicial ruling in Graham County Superior Court, involving Dawn Renee Phillips, 61, is in accordance with state law G.S. 15A-1008, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.

G.S.15A-1008 applies to defendants who lack the capacity to stand trial, most likely on a permanent basis. A defendant meeting this two-pronged requirement must be freed once their length of confinement matches the length of prison time allowable if tried and convicted.

Phillips has been in state custody for about 24 months on 61 counts of felony desecrate grave site.

Graham County Sheriff’s Office deputies identified Phillips as a suspect after reviewing security-camera footage recorded at Lone Oak Church near Robbinsville. He was charged in consultation with the District Attorney’s Office.

Phillips’ lawyer, Melissa Jackson, requested Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Bill Coward dismiss the charges against her client.

“If she’s served her time, she’s served her time,” Judge Coward said.

Assistant District Attorney Caleb Decker supervised the case on behalf of the District Attorney’s Office.

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