Charges Bound Over in Cemetery Vandalism Case

(Provided photo)

CLEARFIELD – The last vandal accused of knocking over dozens of gravestones at the Hillcrest Cemetery in September had all charges bound over to court following a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Jerome Nevling during Centralized Court on Wednesday at the Clearfield County Jail.

Darrin Robert Thompson, 25, Heath Hemphill Jr., 20, and Dylan Lee Cutler, 18, all of Clearfield, have been charged with institutional vandalism/cemetery; intentional desecration of a public monument; historic lots and burial places; criminal mischief/damage property intentionally, recklessly or negligently; and public drunkenness.

Additionally, Thompson has been charged with selling/furnishing liquor, etc. to minors. Both Hemphill and Cutler have also been charged with the purchase, etc. of an alcoholic beverage by a minor. Earlier this month, Hemphill and Cutler waived their charges to court.

Both Hemphill and Cutler testified for the commonwealth at the preliminary hearing. After that, defense attorney Shawn T. McMahon, Esq. stipulated that the commonwealth had presented sufficient evidence for all charges to be bound over to the Court of Common Pleas. Assistant District Attorney Warren B. Mikesell II, Esq. agreed to the defense’s stipulation.

Nevling then bound all charges against Thompson to court. He left Thompson’s bail unchanged; Thompson remains incarcerated at the CCJ in lieu of $25,000 bail. Both Hemphill and Cutler also remain incarcerated at the CCJ in lieu of $25,000 and $10,000 bail, respectively.

Hemphill testified first and detailed the trio’s whereabouts on the night of Sept. 5. Around 11 p.m., he was hanging out with Thompson and Cutler at Cutler’s house. Thompson, he said, had money and wanted to buy beer, and they went to St. Charles Café around 1 a.m. Thompson went inside and purchased two 12 packs of Bud Light pounders.

Hemphill said they went back to Cutler’s house and drank the beer. While they were hanging out together, he said Thompson wanted to go for a walk around 2:30 a.m. or 3 a.m., and they initially went to the Salvation Army. After breaking glass vases there, Hemphill said they walked to the Hillcrest Cemetery and started knocking over gravestones.

When asked by Mikesell, Hemphill testified it was Thompson’s idea to knock over the gravestones. However, Thompson shook his head indicating otherwise from his seat at the defense table. When asked, Hemphill said they knocked over 65 gravestones, and it took all three of them each time.

According to Hemphill, one gravestone fell on Thompson’s foot shortly before they left the cemetery. He and Cutler had to assist Thompson out of the cemetery and back to his house. Hemphill said Thompson’s foot was cut and bleeding, and he couldn’t walk on it.

Hemphill said he went to Cutler’s house and they passed out there. When asked by Mikesell, Hemphill agreed he knew they were destroying gravestones at the cemetery. However, he also indicated he wouldn’t have done so if he hadn’t been under the influence of alcohol. When asked by Mikesell, Hemphill said they helped Thompson get out, as they didn’t want to get caught.

Under cross examination, Hemphill indicated he had never met Thompson prior to Sept. 5. When asked by McMahon, Hemphill admitted he’d ingested two bowls of marijuana before hanging out with Thompson and Cutler. Hemphill also admitted he was highly intoxicated on the night in question.

Cutler testified that on Sept. 5, Thompson, who lived next door to him, came over and wanted to drink, which seemed like a “good idea.” He said Thompson was over 21 years old and could get alcohol for them. That night, Cutler said Thompson went to St. Charles Café and purchased beer, which they drank at his (Cutler’s) house.

According to him, they went for a walk and ended up at the Salvation Army. There, he and Hemphill started breaking glass vases; however, Thompson didn’t help them and only watched. From there he said they went to the Hillcrest Cemetery and knocked over gravestones.

Cutler said one gravestone fell onto Thompson’s foot, injuring him. Then, while helping Thompson get his foot free, he said it fell onto his own foot, and Hemphill had to help free it. Cutler said he and Hemphill had to assist Thompson in getting out of the cemetery and to his house.

When asked, Cutler wasn’t certain whose idea it was to go on the walk and to knock over the gravestones. He also wasn’t certain who knocked over the first gravestone. He explained he didn’t have a “clear mind” at the time of the incident. Cutler said after realizing they were being “disrespectful,” they left the cemetery.

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