Two Cemetery Vandals Sentenced to Jail

CLEARFIELD – Two Clearfield men pleaded guilty to vandalizing an area cemetery in Clearfield County Court.

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.

Hemphill was sentenced to six months to one year in jail and two years consecutive probation. He was fined $610 plus costs. This sentence will run consecutive to his probation revocation sentence of six months to one year in jail.

Cutler was sentenced to six months to one year in jail and two years consecutive probation. He was fined $750 plus costs. They must pay more than $6,500 in restitution. Clearfield County President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman told Hemphill that he didn’t want to see him again and if he did, Hemphill would be serving a lengthy state prison term.

The charges stem from an incident in Clearfield Borough on Sept. 5 when Hemphill, Cutler and Darrin Robert Thompson, 25, of Clearfield damaged tombstones at Hillcrest Cemetery in Clearfield. According to the affidavit of probable cause, the damage to the cemetery is estimated to be more than $20,000.

Prior to sentencing, it was noted that both Hemphill and Cutler cooperated with the investigation and testified at Thompson’s preliminary hearing.

At that hearing, Hemphill said 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.

Attorney Shawn McMahon, who is representing Thompson, asked Hemphill if he had consumed any alcohol prior to going to Cutler’s house and he said no. However, he did admit to smoking two bowls of marijuana.

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.

Cutler explained that Thompson was injured when one of the stones fell on his leg above the ankle. After Cutler was able to free Thompson, the stone fell on his leg. Hemphill then helped him move the stone off. It was then they decided to leave because “we realized this was disrespectful,” Cutler said.

Thompson is charged with institutional vandalism cemetery, etc., 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. He is currently serving a state prison sentence of five months to two years for violating his probation by committing this crime and consuming alcohol.

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