Dispute over 8-year-old’s grave decorations lands in court

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Steve Ewing pulled a plastic cart full of Easter decorations into Cumberland County court Wednesday morning.

Ewing owns Carlisle’s Ashland Cemetery and removed the decorations from the grave of Vinny Capozzi, an 8-year-old who died four years ago. Vinny’s dad, Lou, was also in Judge Thomas Placey’s courtroom and testified Ewing’s action has caused his family distress. Capozzi is seeking an injunction to stop Ewing from touching Vinny’s belongings.

We were recently with Lou and two other Capozzi children as they did up Vinny’s grave for Memorial Day with red, white and blue decorations.

“This is about my kids’ right to decorate their sibling’s grave the way they see fit,” Capozzi said emotionally during that interview. “This is not about me. I’m going to do everything I can to enforce my children’s right to decorate their brother’s grave.”

Ewing, who didn’t get a chance to speak in court Wednesday, insisted last week that he’s maintaining the dignity of his cemetery.

“Mardi Gras beads hanging over the angel’s neck and in the hands of the angel she is holding rosary beads. That is borderline sacrilegious,” Ewing said.

Capozzi testified that for four years Ewing never objected to the decorations adorning Vinny’s grave. So why is he cracking down now? I asked Ewing about that last week.

“Because I felt, in a way, sorry for the fella. He just lost his 8-year-old son. It wasn’t bad in the very beginning, but as the years went on it started to keep on growing. It was like a virus. It became a virus.”

Ewing didn’t get tell the judge his side of the story yet. He left court without resolution but pulling the cart with Vinny’s decorations. The case will continue next week. The judge put a gag order on the participants.

At the end of Wednesday’s two-hour proceeding, Placey admonished both sides, saying the case has lots of “resolvability.” Basically, he’s suggesting the two sides should figure out a resolution among themselves.

Placey added, “there are lots of egos getting in the way.”

But last week at the burial ground, when both men were free to speak, it was pretty clear that common ground won’t easily be found.

“I bought this burial plot without restrictions,” Capozzi said forcefully. “There’s no deed restrictions. There’s nothing that says I can’t decorate this burial plot.”

Ewing countered, “I can forbid Mr. Capozzi from coming in here. That is involved in the rules and regulations.”

Placey refused to issue a hands-off order on Vinny’s gravesite decorations but added, “I trust that if they are removed, they will be preserved the way Easter decorations are.”

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