New Hope woman sentenced to monitoring, probation for 2022 mosque vandalization
A New Hope woman will spend time under electronic monitoring as part of her sentence for a charge stemming from the vandalization of a mosque in Stearns County last year.
26-year-old Victoria Catalina Veliz was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Laura Moehrle for one charge of second-degree burglary of a religious building. Moehrle ordered Veliz to serve 60 days on home detention and electronic monitoring, although Veliz received two days of credit. In addition, she must serve five years of supervised probation.
Veliz pleaded guilty to the second-degree burglary charge earlier this year as part of an agreement.
According to a criminal complaint, on Sept. 8, 2022, officers with the St. Cloud Police Department were called to the Islamic Center of St. Cloud on the 300 block of 5th Avenue South at 4:12 a.m. on a report of a break-in.
Officers met with a man from the mosque who had come to open the building for the day and found the front window broken, several pieces of ceiling tile that were broken, and cigarette butts and beer cans, the complaint states.
In an office in the building, law enforcement officials found sheetrock on the floor and a hole in the ceiling near a knife that had drywall stuck on the tip. A leather chair behind a desk had several knife cuts on the seat, officials said. Additionally, bloody paper towels and spots of blood were collected for testing.
Downstairs, some papers had been thrown onto the floor and a piece of paper on a desk that had Arabic writing on it had what appeared to be the initials “LS” written in blood, the complaint states.
A keycard for a hotel was found at the scene. The complaint states that law enforcement officers responded to the hotel and determined the suspects were staying in a room on the fourth floor.
After several knocks on the door, Veliz and a man later identified as Logan Oliver Smith were arrested.
Veliz later told officers that she and Smith went out to explore and saw a “scary” church and decided to go inside. Law enforcement officials found two Qurans and three cassette tapes with Arabic writing belonging to the Islamic Center in the hotel room.