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Utah ‘goblin topplers’ sentenced to probation
Sentence » The two men pleaded guilty to knocking over an ancient rock formation.
First Published Mar 18 2014 09:25 am • Last Updated Mar 19 2014 09:13 am

Castle Dale • Utah’s so-called goblin topplers, Glenn Tuck Taylor and David Benjamin Hall, may have to shell out thousands to pay for warning signs telling future visitors to Goblin Valley State Park to leave the rocks alone — advice, Taylor said Tuesday, he wished they had followed last year.

The men were sentenced Tuesday afternoon to a year of probation and no jail time after pleading guilty to knocking over an ancient rock formation in the state park.

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They will be required to pay an amount yet to be determined, which the state will use to erect warning signs throughout the park, officials said.

Taylor, 45, who physically pushed over the hoodoo, was charged in Castle Dale’s 7th District Court with third-degree felony criminal mischief. Hall, 42, who videotaped the incident, was charged with aiding and assisting in criminal mischief, also a third-degree felony.

Both charges were punishable by up to five years in prison had the men been convicted.

But each pleaded guilty Tuesday to lesser class A misdemeanors — Taylor to criminal mischief, Hall to attempted criminal mischief.

After the hearing, as Taylor was leaving the Emery County Sheriff’s Office, where he had been finger printed and processed into the county’s offender registry, he apologized for his actions on that October day.

"We wish we hadn’t done it," he said. "We’re sorry."

Their pleas were held in abeyance, which means that if the men stay out of trouble for the next year and comply with conditions ordered by the court, the cases will be dismissed.

Judge Douglas Thomas didn’t impose too many conditions on the men, save financial ones.


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Each man must pay a $925 court fee and both have agreed to split a $1,500 investigative cost — for the engineers that assessed the damage caused to the hoodoo Taylor knocked over — and restitution, which will be determined sometime in the next 30 days.

Emery County Attorney David Blackwell said the state was "close" to determining the monetary amount they would be seeking.

Defense attorney Scott Card, who represented Taylor, said the amount will be "thousands, not hundreds" of dollars that will go towards erecting signs throughout Goblin Valley to warn others not to damage the formations.

It was the first time the two men — both Highland residents — appeared in court since they were charged with breaking the law in January.

According to court records, the men caused more than $1,500, but less than $5,000, in damage when they pushed over the ancient rock formation on Oct. 11 — an incident they filmed and posted to the Internet.

The video, which was viewed millions of times, shows Taylor pushing over the rock formation to cheers of videographer Hall and other men in the area.

"We have a new modified Goblin Valley," Hall says into the camera. "A new Goblin Valley exists with this boulder down here on the bottom."

Taylor and Hall have insisted they toppled the rock formation out of concern that it would fall and hurt someone, like a family they had allegedly seen walking underneath the hoodoo about the time of the incident.

Hall later pointed out that his uncle was killed decades earlier by a falling boulder, causing him to be forever concerned about the consequences of falling rocks.

"When Mr. Taylor leaned on that rock to rest, it tipped, so it was a concern," the defense attorney said. "The more appropriate behavior would have been to notify someone, like a ranger. They know that now."

The men, who were at the state park with the Boy Scouts of America, were later removed from their Scout leadership positions.

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