ELO teen sentenced for damage to cemetery

LISBON – The man who caused “insurmountable” damage to a cemetery in Wellsville was sentenced to a year in prison Friday, with credit given for seven months served.

Jacob S. Lowther, 19, of East Liverpool appeared before Columbiana County Common Pleas Judge Scott Washam with his attorney Kelly Linger.

After considering Linger and prosecutor John Gamble’s suggestions, Washam determined one year to be sufficient. Lowther was also sentenced to three years’ post release control.

Gamble and Adult Probation Officer Kyle Gainor had recommended two years and six months prison time and were noticeably disappointed the recommendation was not taken.

During the hearing Gamble pointed out Lowther originally provided police with false information after the incident in which he and four other people were accused of knocking over several gravestones in Springhill Cemetery.

Lowther was charged and later pleaded guilty to vandalism for the Dec. 27 incident. The damage amounted to more than $150,000, according to court documents.

On Dec. 28 he was charged with obstructing official business for providing false information, and he has already served the full 90 days on that charge.

The vandalism charge is a fourth-degree felony.

“He gave another version of his involvement,” Gamble said. “When asked by officers why he provided a false name, he said it was because he was smoking weed, which doesn’t make sense.”

He went on to say that Lowther’s “attempt to minimize” at least one of the damaged gravestones by saying he had been leaning on it didn’t make “a darn bit of sense” either.

Washam noted that Lowther has no record of juvenile offenses, but Gamble countered he has broken the law more than once since turning 18.

Gamble said Lowther violated probation for a misdemeanor offense in September of last year and was sentenced in January to 30 days in jail on a receiving stolen property charge through the East Liverpool Municipal Court.

“This is simply a young man who is not going to quit committing crime,” Gamble said.

Lowther’s alleged dependency issues were also raised at the hearing.

“This is a very young man who has suffered with substance abuse problems,” Linger said.

One woman who wished to speak on his behalf was substance abuse counselor Cheryle Herr, of the Family Recovery Center.

“In January of this year Jacob sought after my help to begin counseling. He definitely has a diagnosis of chemical dependency,” she said, specifically referring to marijuana and alcohol use.

“I just think that he does need help, and treatment would be very beneficial to him. Whether in prison or both he needs the benefit of counseling,” she said.

Linger said Lowther has remained “clean and sober” during the seven months he has been in the Columbiana County Jail and recommended a nine-month incarceration.

When given an opportunity to speak, Lowther said, “I’m not totally disagreeing with the prosecution,” and apologized to the people affected by his actions.

Shortly before imposing the one-year sentence, Washam told him, “You have caused almost insurmountable damage to a certain amount of people.”

He also said the sentence is fair since there is no way Lowther can make the necessary restitution.

Washam also sentenced him to six months for an unrelated burglary charge, although that sentence is concurrent with the vandalism charge.

He was charged with third-degree burglary after trespassing into the home of Ann Curran, Market Street, East Liverpool on July 10.