Marshall County Prosecutor E. Nelson Chipman, Jr. confirmed Thursday, December 21st the filing in Marshall Superior Court No. 2 of two criminal cases involving the December 13, criminal mischief vandalism of the Christmas decorations and the theft of an artificial Christmas tree from River Park Square.
The prosecutor said, “First, I want to commend the outstanding police work of Plymouth Police Department Detective Ben McIntyre. The events giving rise to these cases occurred at approximately 3:00 a.m. on December 13. Damage to the Christmas tree lights by severing the electrical cords was discovered shortly before 8:00 a.m., as was a missing artificial Christmas tree, by Plymouth Park Assistant Superintendent Dave Cooper. By early afternoon of the same day, Detective McIntyre had identified individuals allegedly responsible for the senseless destruction. Follow up old fashion police work led to probable cause to justify the filing of charges.”
Chaz Sylvester, age 20, has been charged with one count of theft of a Christmas tree as a class A misdemeanor; and one count of criminal mischief as a class A misdemeanor for damaging and defacing the property of the City of Plymouth, that property being Christmas decorations resulting in a pecuniary loss of at least $750 but less than $50,000. And one count of institutional criminal mischief as a level 6 felony.
Chipman explained, “While I reviewed Detective McIntyre’s report and studied the applicable law, it struck me that River Park Square is a special place. Mayor Senter’s administration, with rousing public support, built River Park Square as a community gathering point for many outdoor public events, including the celebrated Farmers’ Market, the very popular concerts in the park, a water feature, and playground equipment for kids. Clearly, River Park Square is a community center year-round culminating with magical Christmas decorations to attract the whole family.”
Chipman continued, “The law also recognizes community centers as worthy of heightened protection. In my view, by building River Park Square into such a special place, the law elevates the destruction of community property in such a mean and senseless way to that of a felony. Although technically the City of Plymouth is the only alleged victim, the whole citizenry, especially the children of the community, are the true victims. That is why Mr. Sylvester faces a heightened charge of Institutional Criminal Mischief as a level 6 felony.”
Also charged with two misdemeanor counts is Rebecca A. Carr, age 20. She faces one count of Aiding, Inducing, or Causing Theft of a Christmas tree, a Class A misdemeanor. The second count is a Class C misdemeanor of Operating a Motor Vehicle Without Ever Receiving a License.
Both Sylvester and Carr are being summoned into court for an initial hearing scheduled for January 30, 2024.
A third person alleged to have participated is a juvenile under the age of 18. That person’s case is currently being reviewed by juvenile authorities.
Readers are reminded that criminal charges are mere allegations and that the person so charged is presumed innocent of the allegations unless or until proven guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt.