MOUNT VERNON — A guilty verdict of criminal damaging was handed down to Wayne Link in Mount Vernon Municipal Court on Thursday. An eight-member jury panel found Link guilty of an incident where he caused damage to a surveillance camera at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County on Aug. 20, 2013.
Evidence in the trial included video footage captured from the surveillance camera. The video showed Link sitting at a table in the library reading a newspaper. He then proceeds to grab what looks like a book and approaches the camera. As Link disappears underneath the camera’s view, there’s an immediate violent shaking motion, and the camera quickly jerks downward and again becomes still.
Link objected to the video and asked it be removed as evidence, saying it was “inflammatory and doesn’t accurately depict circumstances as they occurred.” Judge Paul Spurgeon denied the request.
Testifying at the trial was security officer Justin Thompson who is employed at the library through Schmidt Security. Thompson said that shortly after he arrived for work that day at 1:30 p.m., he noticed a video camera was hanging loose and not attached to the wall. Upon discovering that the camera had been damaged, he then downloaded video footage captured from the camera, burned a disc of the video and gave it to library director John Chidester, filling out a report of the incident as well as a daily log sheet for Schmidt Security.
The incident was also reported to the Information Technology staff at the library. The damaged camera was then removed and a new camera installed the same day. Chidester later reported the incident to the Mount Vernon Police Department with Sgt. Fred Gerber.
Link claimed that there were inconsistencies between the incident report Thompson gave to Chidester and the daily log supplied to Schmidt Security. Assistant Law Director Rob Broeren said that a report can be written as many as 1,000 times without the same exact wording being used.
“They can testify that I am the one seen in the video. But they can’t testify that I actually caused damaged to the camera,” said Link, claiming that the video doesn’t actually show him causing any damage. “They haven’t a burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” Link also suggested that the camera was not damaged until Thompson removed it from the wall.
“What we have here is the difference between evidence and fantasy,” said Broeren in his closing statements to the jury, asking them to carefully consider the evidence at hand, specifically the documents and video. “He (Thompson) doesn’t deserve the suspicion Mr. Link is throwing at him.”
Following a jury deliberation that lasted about 25 minutes, the members presented their verdict of guilty to Judge Paul Spurgeon who assigned the case to a pre-sentencing investigation with sentencing scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26. Spurgeon recommended that Link seek an evaluation at Moundbuilders Guidance Center in the mean time.
“The video doesn’t jive with the person I think you are,” said Spurgeon.
“I didn’t damage the camera,” insisted Link following the trial verdict. “I have been ambushed. I have had a tremendous amount of harassment from employees at the library. This is the reason for the cameras ... to stop the harassment and the pornography.”
“I do appreciate the jury in that they took their time to make their decision based on the evidence that occurred without speculation,” said Broeren.
Link, who defended himself at trial, presented no defense.
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