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Hix Gets 2 yrs Probation & 200 hrs. Community Service for Cemetery Vandalism

January 27, 2011

01/28/11 “It’s the worst mistake of my entire life,” that is how 19 year old Gage Hix explained his action of Saturday night and early Sunday morning September 25th and 26th, 2010. He said, “I regret it every single minute of my life.”

Hix was in Marshall Superior Court One Thursday morning for his sentencing in reference to his participation in toppling over 100 grave stones in Oak Hill Cemetery last fall.

Mr. Hix pled guilty to one count of cemetery mischief, a class D felony as part of his plea agreement.

Judge Robert Bowen explained the terms of the plea agreement which included two years in the Department of Corrections – suspended, 2 years of reporting probation, a $1.00 fine and court costs, 200 hours of community service and restitution of $2,6264 to the City of Plymouth and $8,500 to the South Bend Monument Company.

Hix told the judge that he had never been in trouble before.  He currently isn’t in school and doesn’t have a job but does have plans to go to college.

Prior to the official sentencing Mayor Mark Senter was allowed to address the court. He said, “This case had a lot of notoriety.  This cemetery is our ancestry and history.”  He continued by saying that he understood that Mr. Hix had been cooperative through the investigation.  And said, “His time served (12-days) is OK with me but I think he should get a longer probationary period.”

As part of the plea agreement Judge Bowen did add a stipulation that if the Probation Department has indications that Mr. Hix is not staying on the right tract, He could extend the probation period an additional year.   The judge also explained that the restitution of $10,764 is to be shared with the co-defendants but if they fail to pay Mr. Hix would be held responsible to pay the entire amount.

If Hix completes his sentencing Judge Bowne will reduce the charge to a class A misdemeanor.

Also on the court docket Thursday was a review hearing for Jonathan Tanner, the other young man accused of toppling markers in Oak Hill Cemetery.  Judge Bowen cancelled his appointment of public defender Ed Ruiz because Tanner had been able to post the $1,000 cash bond.  The judge suggested he find legal counsel and ordered him to appear on Wednesday, February 2nd at 9 a.m. for a status conference on the hiring of an attorney.

Two juveniles have been accused of participating in the event but because of their ages their punishments will not be public.