Cemetery vandalism suspects waive preliminary hearing

Friday, September 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Two men accused of toppling rows of Jewish headstones in a Tulsa cemetery waived their right to a preliminary hearing Thursday and will appear before a judge Oct. 9.

Jonathan Brian Duke, 20, and Dillon Garrett Bell, 18, each remained held Thursday on charges tied to the late-night vandalism spree Aug. 25 at Rose Hill Memorial Park.

They will make their pleas next month before Tulsa County District Judge Linda Morrissey.

District Attorney Tim Harris said plea negotiations are underway with both Duke and Bell.

Bell's attorney, Robert Ridenour, said he believes the case against Bell will be resolved without a trial.

Neither attorney would discuss any specific proposals or offers that have been made.

Each suspect has been charged with a felony of malicious injury to property and 90 misdemeanors. The misdemeanors include 89 counts of injuring a gravestone or monument and one count of malicious intimidation and harassment based on religion, ancestry and national origin.

Police investigated the desecrations as a hate crime case.

Federal authorities are considering possible hate crimes charges.

With no objection from prosecutors, Bell's bail was reduced from $230,100 to $10,000 after Ridenour argued Bell was not a flight risk and not a threat to the community.

A search of Bell's home revealed no white supremacist paraphernalia, and Bell has been kept in solitary confinement since his arrest based "on the publicity surrounding his charges,"

Ridenour said in a court document.

Ridenour said Bell went along with the vandalism to try to impress Duke.

Duke's bail exceeds $460,000. Police reported that they found items associated with the Ku Klux Klan -- including a KKK robe, a white cone-shaped hood and a full-faced hood -- in a search of Duke's home.

Duke received a five-year probation for auto burglary only seven weeks before his arrest at Rose Hill.

Crews on Tuesday began repairing the 93 damaged headstones. They are trying to complete the work by Saturday, which is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.