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Sentencing set for woman who took items from Arizona mosque

Trial set in mosque burglarizing
Posted at 6:58 AM, Jun 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-04 09:58:59-04

PHOENIX (AP) - A woman captured on video making derogatory comments about Muslims as she and a friend took pamphlets and other items from an Arizona mosque is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday on an aggravated criminal damage conviction.

The guilty plea previously struck by Tahnee Savanna Gonzales calls for her to serve a sentence of probation, write a letter of apology to the mosque and complete 225 hours of community service.

Gonzales was with a friend and three children in March 2018 when they removed pamphlets, fliers and other items from bins in a fenced-in courtyard behind the mosque in Tempe. Qurans also were taken, but it's unclear which of the two women was accused of walking away with them.

The two women, known for making anti-Muslim statements at political events in the Phoenix area, walked past a no-trespassing sign posted on a gate to the courtyard, where only members of the mosque were allowed to go without permission.

Gonzales posted a video of the visit on her social media account. The video shows Gonzales starting a shouting match with a Muslim man after he walked out of the mosque and tried to pet her dog.

Her friend, Elizabeth Ann Dauenhauer, had previously pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal damage and was sentenced to 18 months of probation and 200 hours of community service. At sentencing, Dauenhauer expressed remorse for her actions.

Gonzales, who does most of the talking during the 23-minute video, complains in the footage about Sharia law and said Muslims engage in bestiality and are destroying America.

When she sees a no-guns sign on a gate on mosque property, Gonzales said, "Ahhh, but they carry around AKs and kill people all the time."

Near the end of the video, the two women, children and their dogs stood in the parking lot as a man exited the mosque.

One of the dogs trotted over to the man, who, in response to a question from Gonzales, later identified himself as a practicing Muslim.

"Stay away from our dogs, please. Don't eat them," Gonzales told the man, prompting a guffaw from Dauenhauer.

"Really?" the man responded, later explaining that he was trying to be peaceful and didn't understand what Gonzales was talking about.

Gonzales kept yelling insults at the man as the shouting match continued.

The parents of the three children who were with the two women at the mosque haven't been publicly identified by authorities.

Her plea agreement calls for charges of burglary, disorderly conduct and other counts to be dismissed.

Before Gonzales pleaded guilty, her lawyers contended her comments were protected by the First Amendment. They said the mosque was open to the public and intended for people to take the materials that Gonzales and Dauenhauer walked away with.