Testimony Continues in Hawk Run Man’s Homicide Trial

Dustin Tyler Thomas (Provided photo)

CLEARFIELD – Testimony continued on Tuesday in the case against a Hawk Run man who allegedly shot and killed another man in late October of last year.

Dustin Tyler Thomas, 28, has been charged by Cpl. Matthew Gray of the Clearfield-based state police with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. is presenting the case on behalf of the commonwealth. Thomas is being represented by defense attorneys Stephanie Cooper and Alison Glunt of Bellefonte. The Honorable Judge Paul Cherry is presiding over the case.

The charges stem from the death of Brett M. Bamat, 36, of Philipsburg on the night of Oct. 30, 2017 at a Bass Lane residence in Morrisdale.

According to previous trial testimony from Bamat’s sister-in-law, Valerie, Thomas was helping out with chores and projects around her trailer that night. She also said Thomas had been drinking Bird Dog whiskey and Bamat had been drinking vodka mixed with sweet tea.

At around 8 p.m., her husband called from the Perry County Prison, and at his request, she asked Thomas to leave. She said Thomas became upset and began to cry.

A short time later, Thomas pulled his gun out from its holster. She said when Bamat asked him why he had his gun out, Thomas commented that “it is my muscle.” She said Bamat told him if he wanted to fight, they could go outside and fight.

After that, she said the two men seemed to be friendly with each other again and things went back to normal. They went into the living room area, were discussing hunting and Bamat was showing Thomas a crossbow.

While Bamat had his back turned, she said Thomas pulled the gun from its holster again and put it behind his back. When Bamat turned back around, he asked Thomas why he was holding his gun behind his back.

She said Thomas put the gun back in its holster again, they started shoving each other and she told the two men to get outside. Bamat took food to her car for dinner at his mother’s but came back to the porch area.

She said Thomas and Bamat started shoving each other again. While she stepped back inside briefly, she heard a gunshot. She went outside and Bamat was lying in a fetal position on the ground and Thomas was standing on the porch.

She said Thomas, who was emotionless, walked back to his Jeep and eventually drove away. She called her mother-in-law, Patricia Lynn, and then 911. She performed chest compressions on Bamat until the first trooper arrived on scene.

On Tuesday Lynn, Bamat’s mother, said she received a call around 8:30 p.m. from her daughter-in-law, Valerie Bamat. She was told Thomas had shot her son, and she “flew right over there.”

She said when she arrived, Valerie Bamat was performing chest compressions on Bamat in the yard. She said she kneeled down next to her son and asked him to stay with her, but she knew he was already gone.

She ran down to the road to wave down state police to make sure they saw their driveway. She told the first trooper that Thomas had shot her son and where he lived at.

The trooper ran up to take over life-saving efforts. “I told him it was a waste of his time; you can’t bring him back,” Lynn testified.

Dr. Harry Kamerow, an expert pathologist, conducted an autopsy on Bamat on Oct. 31. He said Bamat was shot in the chest and the bullet struck his heart; it traveled downward from left to right, striking the liver and kidney and it was removed from his lower back.

He said the bullet’s path of travel was consistent with the commonwealth’s theory that Thomas was standing on the porch when he shot Bamat, who was below him on the ground.

Kamerow also reviewed case documents and concluded that Thomas was cognizant of his actions at the time of and right after the shooting incident. After all he said Thomas was able to fire his handgun, strike Bamat right in the heart, drive away from the scene, etc.

This, he said, showed Thomas was able to think for himself and develop the specific intent to do anything, including kill. Though the trooper’s report noted Thomas was intoxicated, he said it didn’t mean he couldn’t willfully and intentionally kill Bamat.

Kamerow said Thomas’ thought process would have had to been so stuporous for him to not have been able to form the specific intent to kill.

Tprs. Andres Made and Matthew Peacock testified with regards to their observations of Thomas after he was taken into custody at around 9:45 p.m. at his Glastonbury Street residence in Hawk Run.

Made said he transported Thomas in his patrol unit to the Clearfield barracks while Peacock followed behind. Both troopers detected the odor of alcohol coming from Thomas’ person.

However, both said they felt he was able to communicate with and understand them. While both said Thomas was intoxicated, they said it wasn’t to the point he needed assistance beyond what’s typical during a police escort of a cuffed individual.

Peacock said even though he would have arrested Thomas for DUI had he been pulled over, he still felt Thomas could function. He did say that after midnight, Thomas became sluggish and appeared to be sleeping while cuffed to a bench in an interview room at the barracks.

Around 12:30 a.m. Oct. 31, former Tpr. David Ray attempted to conduct an interview with Thomas. However, he found Thomas was lethargic, spoke gibberish and was out of it.

Unable to proceed with an interview, Ray recommended having Thomas medically cleared at the Penn Highlands Clearfield Hospital before his transport to the county jail. Days later he said he spoke to Thomas at the jail and he appeared to be fine.

Tprs. Frederick Burns III and Michael Moskel were responsible for transporting Thomas to the hospital and then to the county jail. Both said Thomas appeared to be intoxicated, smelled of alcohol and was sluggish. However, Burns felt Thomas had the mental capacity to waive his Miranda Rights and was still “in control of his faculties.”

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Courtroom No. 1 at the Clearfield County Courthouse.

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