Court fight over cemetery decorations continues between owner, grieving family

Cemeteries are supposed to offer the deceased a place to rest in peace.

But peace, even in this season of giving, is hard to find at Ashland’s Cemetery in Carlisle. Two Midstate man are locked in a bitter feud over decorations that initially flared in May.

Local attorney, and grieving dad, Lou Capozzi put red, white and blue decorations on his late son Vinny’s grave for Memorial Day. Ashland owner Steve Ewing objected to what he deems over-the-top flags, beads and pinwheels.

Capozzi told ABC27 that he has a right to grieve and decorate Vinny’s grave as he sees fit.

“This is my right, and no one is going to take that away from me,” Capozzi fold ABC27 firmly in May.

Ewing, just as firmly in May, said he grieves at the way the Capozzi decorations made his cemetery look.

“This is a historic cemetery where there’s honor, dignity and respect that has to be shown here. These are hallowed grounds and having pinwheels and flags and Mardi Gras beads and party hats just did not seem appropriate to me,” Ewing said.

The case went to Cumberland County Court. Judge Placey ruled that Ewing couldn’t touch the Capozzi decorations for 15 days, at which point Ewing could remove them and then return them to Capozzi within 30 days.

The weather has cooled. The holiday has changed. But the story, and the animosity between the two men, has not.

Capozzi and his two surviving children, Vinny’s siblings, decorated Vinny’s grave for Christmas on Monday. They insist Ewing removed Thanksgiving decorations prematurely in violation of the judge’s order and are taking the case back to court.

“A lot of the decorations have been broken,” Capozzi said Monday. “They’ve been stolen. Basically the gravesite’s being vandalized on a daily basis. We feel terrible. This is how we celebrate Vinny’s life. This is how he brings us much closer when we come to grieve.”

Ewing wouldn’t go on camera to comment Monday and he wouldn’t let ABC27 cameras in his cemetery. But in a phone conversation he insisted he has abided by the judge’s ruling and says he’s fighting to keep the place presentable for all of its occupants. It’s now up to Placey, once again, to decide.

Peace on earth.

Goodwill to men.

That  may be the sentiment of the season. But it’s hard to find at Ashland Cemetery.

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