Judge Rejects Guilty Plea in Cemetery Vandalism Case

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CLEARFIELD – A guilty plea by a Clearfield man accused of vandalizing an area cemetery has been rejected in Clearfield County Court.

Darrin Robert Thompson, 26, 108 High St., Clearfield, an inmate of state prison, was pleading guilty to institutional vandalism, criminal conspiracy, intentional desecration of public monument, intentionally desecrate historic burial lot or place, criminal mischief, public drunkenness and two counts of selling or furnishing liquor or malt or brewed beverages to minors.

Clearfield County President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman rejected the plea, which was for a minimum sentence of nine months. This puts the case back on the trial list. Thompson is currently serving a state prison sentence of five months to two years for violating his probation by committing this crime and consuming alcohol.

The charges stem from an incident at Hillcrest Cemetery in Clearfield on Sept. 5. His co-defendants, Heath Hemphill Jr., 20, 410 Shaw St., Clearfield, and Dylan Lee Cutler, 18, 110 High St., Clearfield, pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy, institutional vandalism, intentional desecration of public monument, historic lots and burial places, criminal mischief, and public drunkenness. They were sentenced to six months to one year in jail and two years consecutive probation. They were also ordered to pay more than $6,500 in restitution.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, the damage to the cemetery is estimated to be more than $20,000.

At a preliminary hearing, Hemphill testified that he, Thompson and Cutler were hanging out at Cutler’s home near the cemetery when Thompson suggested they get some beer. They traveled to St. Charles on Third Street in Clearfield where Thompson purchased two 12 packs of Bud Light beer. Hemphill said they went back to Cutler’s house where they drank all of it. It was Thompson’s idea to go for a walk.

First they went to the Salvation Army where they broke some vases they found behind the building. Next they went to Hillcrest Cemetery where all three of them pushed over tombstones.

When asked by whose idea this was, Hemphill answered that it was Thompson’s idea. He explained it took all three of them to turn over the stones.

Hemphill admitted he was under the influence of alcohol and would not have done this if he hadn’t been drinking.

Cutler’s testimony was similar. He confirmed Thompson was the one who purchased the alcohol at St. Charles. He stated he and Hemphill were the ones who broke the glass vases at the Salvation Army. They were on the way back to their homes when they stopped in the cemetery. He testified that he didn’t remember whose idea it was to tip over the tombstones, but admitted all three of them participated.

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