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Church vandal found competent to stand trial

Becky Vargo • Apr 26, 2019 at 7:00 AM

A White Cloud man charged with the vandalism of a Grand Haven church late last year was ruled competent to stand trial following a hearing Thursday afternoon in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

The next step in the process is to wait for a report on whether or not Anthony Lee Wabindato, 32, is criminally responsible for his actions.

Judge Karen Miedema made the competency ruling. She emphasized that Wabindato must keep taking the appropriate medications “to ensure his mental stability.”

When Wabindato was arraigned Dec. 31, 2018, in Ottawa County District Court, he was charged with malicious destruction of property over $1,000, two counts of felonious assault, and one count of resisting and opposing police. 

A day earlier, Wabindato entered St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Grand Haven shortly after 7 a.m., destroyed a couple of televisions and a chair, and tried to attack an employee inside the building, according to officers from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety. Wabindato had also thrown fireworks around the building, so the Masses for that Sunday were canceled and the building was evacuated until a Michigan State Police explosives-sniffing K-9 checked the campus.

Wabindato was arrested at the scene. He is being held in the Ottawa County Jail on a $50,000 bond

At Thursday’s hearing, both prosecuting attorney Sarah Matwiejczyk and public defender Phil Sielski mentioned the psychiatrist report finding Wabindato competent to stand trial. It may be another week or two before the criminal responsibility report is ready, Sielski said.

Both attorneys have the option to request independent evaluations, if they do not like the results of the state report, the defense attorney said. Once he is satisfied with the reports, Sielski said that he could make a determination whether or not his client should seek a plea of insanity. If a trial is held, the report would become part of the evidence. 

Wabindato’s criminal history includes charges of drunken driving and possession of marijuana in 2006 in Grand Haven. A 2015 assault and battery charge in Newaygo County was dismissed. 

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