Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal
AUGUSTA — Felony charges have been filed against a West Gardiner mother and daughter who caused $34,000 in damages to gravestones in Monmouth Ridge Cemetery Sept. 28 when they ran their cars into each other.
Police say a mother and daughter caused an estimated $34,000 of damage to headstones in Monmouth Ridge Cemetery. The damaged gravestones include one for a woman who died in 1843.
Kennebec Journal staff photo by Michael Shepherd
District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Friday that both women were issued summonses on the charges and are due to appear in Kennebec County Superior Court Nov. 26.
Melissa K. Grant, 42, and Savannah Lowe, 20, were each charged with aggravated criminal mischief, indicating they “did intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly damage or destroy grave stones and/or lawn, property of Monmouth Cemetery Association.”
The maximum penalty for a conviction on that charge is five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Grant also faces misdemeanor charges of operating after suspension and operating beyond license condition or restriction. Attempts to reach both Grant and Lowe by phone on Sunday were unsuccessful.
Monmouth Police Chief Kevin Mulherin said at the time that Lowe tried to keep Grant from leaving the cemetery by hitting her mother’s car with her own because Lowe believed Grant was intoxicated, though Mulherin said at the time that police couldn’t prove that and didn’t charge her with it.
Grant then retaliated by hitting Lowe’s car with her car, Mulherin said.
The damaged gravestones include one for a woman who died in 1843.
Grant and Lowe were both arrested at the scene and spent the weekend in Kennebec County jail before being released. No charges were filed at the time, because Maloney said she awaited more information from police before deciding which charges would be brought.
After Grant was released, she denied the police account, saying Lowe’s foot got stuck on her car’s accelerator and smashed into her car, damaging the stones in the process.
Grant said there was no dispute between her and her daughter and she feels “absolutely horrible” about damaging stones in the cemetery.
“My family’s buried there, for goodness’ sakes,” she said. “I feel just as sick to my stomach about this as I’m sure everybody else does.”
Grant said at the time she was working with her insurance company to pay for the damage. When asked if she was intoxicated, she replied that she was never charged with driving under the influence.
Michael Cyr, treasurer of the Monmouth Cemetery Association, said Sunday that he had received a repair estimate of about $34,000.
“The main concern is how we’re going to get paid to take care of the damages,” he said. “I don’t know if the charges mean anything to us as far as the funds we need to make the repairs. Obviously if it wasn’t an accident, then I’m certainly happy that the DA would bring charges because it is a very serious offense.”
Cyr said Grant called once and spoke to his wife, saying she intended to take care of the damages and provided an insurance agent’s name for the damage estimate.
“At this point we have sent the estimate to an insurance agent, but we haven’t heard back,” Cyr said.
In the meantime the damage remains unrepaired.
“I didn’t even feel it was a good idea to clean up until the decision’s been made,” Cyr said. “Now we’ll look into cleaning up and picking up a little. I still go up and look at it and say to myself. ‘I can’t image how anybody did this.’”
The association maintains 13 cemeteries in the town, and the Monmouth Ridge Cemetery is the largest and most active, he said.
Betty Adams — 621-5631