Dec 9, 2012 9:17 PM by Kathrene Herndon, KSBY News

Cross given back to church after being used in hate crime

A local church has its cross back after being stolen and used in a hate crime last year.

In March 2011, a cross was stolen from Saint John's Lutheran Church in Arroyo Grande.

A few weeks later, on March 18, it was found burning next to a 19-year-old African American woman's home on South Elm Street.

The cross was kept as evidence during the four-month investigation, and during the trials of the four people accused of the crime.

On Sunday, Arroyo Grande Police Chief Steven Annibali presented the cross back to the church.

Members of the congregation, along with officers, detectives, and others involved in the investigation, were also there.

Pastor Randy Ouimette says, "We hope to use this cross in a new fashion for the community and perhaps make...some type of memorial, some type of inspiration for a kind of love and care and encouragement, one to the other."

He says a dollar amount cannot be put on the cross. "The cross can be maligned, it can be burned, but it can never be destroyed."

All four people involved in the crime have been found guilty and are serving prison sentences.



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