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Published: August 26, 2008 05:30 am ShareThisPrintThis
District attorney drops charges in tombstone case
By Mike Stucka
Staff Writer

SALEM - Prosecutors yesterday dropped their case against a homeless man accused of attacking a centuries-old tombstone with a piece of pipe.
Judge Michael Uhlarik dismissed the case against Donald P. Novack, 38, "without prejudice," meaning the charges could be refiled. Steve O'Connell, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, said, "Based on the evidence, we did not believe we could prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt."
Novack had been accused of causing more than $5,000 in damage to a single unidentified headstone in the Broad Street Cemetery. Patrolman John Burke said he found Novack hiding there on the afternoon of July 29, but Novack said he was trying to fix the headstones.
"When Novack saw one specific tombstone, he picked up a broken piece and tried to put it back," Burke reported. "... The tombstone was very old, and no marking could be seen. The damage appeared fresh, and it was broken into several pieces."
Novack was carrying a footlong pipe when officers found him, according to police.
Novack had been ordered to pay $150 toward a court-appointed attorney, Heather Ramsey of Topsfield. One week ago, she asked the court for $3,000 for psychological advice to prepare Novack's defense, saying he'd told police he had missed his medication. She cited an employee at the Salem Mission who said Novack is under psychiatric care and taking medication, but still sometimes shows symptoms of mental illness, including delusions.
A relative had paid Novack's $500 cash bail, which was refunded yesterday.
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