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Cemetery owner’s trial set again

SOUTH POINT — The fourth, an apparently last, trial date in the felony case concerning the owner of Highland Memorial Gardens has been set.

In September a Lawrence County Grand Jury indicted Larry Carter, owner of the cemetery, on charges of open dumping, an unclassified felony.

Since that time four dates have been set for the trial to be heard before Common Pleas Judge D. Scott Bowling.

However, in a judgment entry on the docket sheet, the case will come to trial on May 24.

“Court will not grant further continuance requests,” the entry states.

According to a criminal affidavit originally filed on June 3, 2009, in Lawrence County Municipal Court by Steven Hileman of the Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste District, Carter “did knowingly dispose of solid waste (plastic flowers) and other miscellaneous debris by throwing over the east hillside off 198 Pvt. Rd. 1336 (Highland Memorial) in violation of the ORC 3734.03 Open Dumping.”

The original complaint was investigated by Clint Shuff of the Ohio EPA, who said there are two legitimate methods of disposal: recycling or removal to a licensed landfill.

“The unwanted flowers and vases that are disposed of over the bank are considered open dumping of a solid waste. Highland Memorial Gardens is not a licensed or permitted solid waste landfill,” Shuff wrote on June 14 to Carter.

Carter’s attorney, Randall L. Lambert, responded on June 22.

“Even though the only thing he knows of that has been placed on the bank recently were plastic gloves and plastic vases, Mr. Carter is willing to comply with the instructions concerning the disposal of anything from the cemetery,” Lambert’s letter said.

In 2005, a similar complaint was issued against Carter after an inspection from Shuff on April 19.

In that Shuff stated that he “observed two separate dumps over the bank, flowers, pots, roofing shingles.” At a follow-up inspection made in August Shuff reported he found large piles of artificial flowers and pots.

However, an Ohio EPA spokesperson reported that Carter did stop the dumping at that time.

A call made to Lambert’s office Friday was not returned by press time.

The trial is expected to last for two days and will begin at 8:30 a.m.