Fourth defendant pleads not guilty in Dover cemetery case

DOVER — A fourth defendant has pleaded not guilty to charges related to police investigation into alleged desecration at a cemetery west of Dover in late July.

Ethel A. Melvin entered her plea on Sept. 10 and demanded a jury trial, according to the Delaware Department of Justice. She has a case review scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 14 in the Kent County Court of Common Pleas.

Ms. Melvin, of Dover, was identified as the 59-year-old manager of Sharon Hills Memorial Park when the Delaware State Police announced arrests in August, which also included two other employees and a fourth defendant being charged.

Clockwise from upper left, Ethel A. Melvin, Shaughn A. Graves, Donald L. Melvin and Lauri A. Larlham are facing charges after investigation into the alleged scrapping of brass urns from Sharon Hills Memorial Park cemetery in Dover, authorities said. (Submitted photos/Delaware State Police)

Clockwise from upper left, Ethel A. Melvin, Shaughn A. Graves, Donald L. Melvin and Lauri A. Larlham are facing charges after investigation into the alleged scrapping of brass urns from Sharon Hills Memorial Park cemetery in Dover, authorities said. (Submitted photos/Delaware State Police)

Ms. Melvin, and Camden-Wyoming residents Laurie A. Larlham, 42, and Donald L. Melvin, 36, earlier had case reviews scheduled for Oct. 14. All have pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor desecration and third-degree conspiracy charges.

Also entering a not guilty plea in the case was Shaughn A. Graves, 39, of Camden-Wyoming, who earlier had a case review scheduled for Sept. 30.

Authorities filed charges after investigation into the alleged illegal scrapping of brass vases belonging to cemetery plot holders. Mr. Larlham and Mr. Graves also were charged with falsifying business records, while Mr. Melvin was facing multiple traffic charges, police said. .

A spokesman for Sharon Hills maintained the defendants were innocent of all charges, and said all but Ms. Larlham were cemetery employees.

Delaware Code defines desecration as a Class A misdemeanor:

“A person is guilty of desecration if the person intentionally defaces, damages, pollutes or otherwise physically mistreats any public monument or structure, any place of worship, the national flag or any other object of veneration by the public or a substantial segment thereof, in a public place and in a way in which the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the actions,” according to the law.

Dover Little League theft case

The case of a former Dover Little League president charged with alleged theft of money from the organization has been moved to Kent County Superior Court, the Department of Justice said.

No court date has been set for William Berry, 52, of the 100 block of Greenbriar Drive in Hartly, who the Dover Police Department said was charged with theft over $1,500, theft by false pretense over $1,500, unlawful use of payment card over $1,500 and third-degree forgery (two counts).

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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