Arkansas farmer pleads guilty to dumping dead animals on neighbor’s grave

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An Arkansas farmer has pleaded guilty to defacing the grave of his former neighbor by dumping dead critters on his headstone while dressed as a woman — claiming he was honoring his longtime nemesis in the act.

Joseph Stroud, 79, who pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor defacing objects of public respect, was originally charged with a felony, but agreed in a deal to plead guilty to the lesser charge, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Stroud was given a one-year suspended sentence and must pay $2,529 in restitution within 30 days, according to the news outlet.

Fred McKinney’s granddaughter, Shannon Nobles, first noticed the dead animals in May 2020 — and at least one of them left a brown stain on his headstone.

The family later set up cameras that captured a person in a gray Dodge Journey “walking up to the headstone with a dead animal in hand, place the dead animal on the headstone, and walk back to his vehicle.”

The culprit, later identified as Stroud, wore a woman’s wig, windbreaker jacket and sunglasses.

Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green asked why she should accept the plea deal Monday.

Deputy prosecutor Tyler Hawkins said Stroud’s attorney, Alison Lee, had provided him with a report from a neurologist who diagnosed him with vascular dementia.

Hawkins said McKinney’s family supported the plea and wanted the money to replace the headstone.

“They will have to replace the headstone because of the blood and guts,” Hawkins told the judge, according to the news outlet. “It’s permanently stained.”

When asked by the judge why he placed the dead animals on McKinney’s grave, Stroud said the man was a farmer and was fond of animals.

“I done it for his behalf to show him the animals were still here and everything like that,” he told Green. “He just enjoyed animals and that there was more of a … a beauty than flowers and stuff.”

Green then asked him: “If you were honoring him, why would you wear disguises and sneak in and out of the cemetery to put the dead animals on his grave?”

“It was to agitate the people looking at me and following me around,” he replied.

The two men had nearby farms and “never got along with each other,” Nobles has said, adding there was once a lawsuit between the pair that she believed Stroud lost.

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