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Teens Accused In Gravesite Vandalism Appear In Court

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SMITHFIELD, N.C. — Two teenagers accused of damaging 50 gravesites in Smithfield were given a court-appointed attorney Monday morning during their first court appearance.

John Taylor and Justin Byrd face felony charges of vandalism. Investigators say the pair is responsible for the damage at Sunset Cemetery.

Authorities said the pair destroyed lights, crushed flower pots and pushed over tombstones. Police said they lifted fingerprints from the damaged headstones and that the two 16-year-olds later confessed to the crime.

The cemetery is also where Ava Gardner is buried. Her headstone was spared, but the directional sign to the gravesite was not.

According to the officials at the Ava Gardner Museum, at least 10 people a day visit her gravesite. Town leaders are talking about putting up security lights at the cemetery.

Taylor and Byrd remain jailed on $60,000 bail each. Their next court appearance is scheduled for April 23.