By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY May 31, 2002 Anthony Hynson knows in his heart that hes raised two good boys.
The father of four moved to Liberty with wife Lisa last year to escape a bad situation in Dutchess County. He wanted to raise his children in a place where they could heal, he said, and deal with their emotional disabilities.
But two weeks ago, Hynsons son Raymond Swett, 16, and stepson Joseph Beach, 17, were taken into police custody for desecration of the Liberty Cemetery. Each of the boys are being charged with 65 felony counts for a May 14 incident in which headstones were toppled and broken.
Their dad gave them up to police to teach Swett and Beach they cant hide from what they do.
But now Hynson believes that may have been a mistake.
The boys, both Liberty High School students, are sitting in jail right now, awaiting trial. They were denied bail, and Hynson wants to know why.
Each of the boys has a history of mental illness. Each has been sexually abused in their past, and each has had a pretty horrific childhood, according to their dad. Theyve been through the Sullivan County mental health system, but Hynson said theyve fallen through the cracks.
Now he wants the chance to get them the help they need.
Im asking for leniency, Hynson said. Im asking that they be allowed to come back home.
These are good boys; they just did something stupid.
Hynson said he hasnt excused what Swett and Beach have done. Punishment is in order for their crimes, he noted, but nothing like the jail sentence of up to four years that the boys face.
And he wants the angry Liberty community to know that his sons are remorseful for their actions.
Theyre not really bad kids, he said.
Our lawyer told me the community is angry, Hynson said. And I was thinking about why theyre angry. Maybe its someones mother or someones grandmother up there.
I understand that, he added.
According to Liberty Supervisor Dick Martinkovic, the majority of the damage was done in a portion of the cemetery which is owned by the Town of Liberty.
Tombstones were also damaged in St. Peters Cemetery and the portion of the graveyard controlled by the Liberty Cemetery Association.
Since the incident, volunteers have come forward to help fix as many of the damaged stones as possible. Some of the older ones were destroyed, however, Martinkovic said.
The town is unable to contribute monetarily to the project. The work is dependent entirely on volunteerism in the area unless the district attorneys office seeks restitution from the boys.
Martinkovic has spoken with District Attorney Steve Lungen and expects the boys will be asked to pay for their crimes and possibly do community service. Any jail time requested is up to the prosecutor.
But, Martinkovic said, the feeling in the community is that the boys should be held responsible in some way for what theyve done.
I dont care whether theyre good kids, he noted. They have no reason to have done this.
I wouldnt doubt that theyre good kids, but that night they werent good citizens.
Hynson is afraid that the one-and-a-half to four-year sentence the boys each face would be too much for their emotional state.
The average stress kids deal with wasnt average for them, Hynson said.
One son had been harassed by drug dealers on the streets near their Liberty home, he noted. Both were feeling the effects of the death of Tyrone Jackson, a Liberty teen who died in a tragic accident earlier in the month.
Yes, what they did was wrong, but they didnt think, he noted. These boys have been through things people shouldnt have to go through.
Hynson does agree that the boys should be held responsible for their actions, but hes hoping the terms will be less than jail time.
I think they should have community service at the place that theyve desecrated, he noted. Ive taught my sons that if theyve made a mistake, I take them back to the issue and they have to face it.
Swett and Beach are expected to be back in Liberty Village Court Tuesday.