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Philipsburg man’s death results in a sentence for a ‘cold-hearted killer’

A Hawk Run man will spend the rest of his life in prison for the murder of a Philipsburg man.

Dustin T. Thomas, 28, who was convicted of first-degree murder after an August trial in Clearfield County Court, was sentenced by Judge Paul Cherry to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Tuesday.

The murder of Brett Bamat of Philipsburg occurred on Oct. 30, 2017 at a Morrisdale residence after the two men argued, according to testimony at the trial. Valerie Bamat, sister-in-law of the victim and the only witness on the scene, addressed the court prior to sentencing saying to Thomas that she was “disappointed in what you’ve done to our family.” She called him a “cold-hearted killer” and said the “pain will never go away.”

“You need to own up to what happened,” she stated, adding, “be a man about what you did that night.” Thomas did respond by apologizing to the family, saying he couldn’t apologize enough, but referred to the murder as a “horrible accident.”

During the trial Valerie Bamat testified that Thomas and Brett Bamat were doing chores around the house when her husband, Tim Bamat, called saying he did not want Thomas at his home. This upset Thomas who said he was “more of a brother” to Tim than Brett.

This led to Thomas pulling the gun he kept in a holster on his hip and saying it was his “muscle,” she said. After Brett Bamat showed Thomas his bicep muscle, tensions eased for a while. Valerie said that she saw Thomas pull the gun again while Brett’s back was turned.

They began to scuffle before going outside at Valerie’s request. Valerie tried to ease the tension, but after a few minutes the two were arguing again and shoving each other, she testified. Just seconds after she stepped inside the home, she heard a shot. When she looked out, she saw Brett lying on ground, she said. 

Thomas went to his vehicle and stated that he wanted to kill himself before he drove away. Brett died shortly after; one bullet hit his heart, liver and kidneys, according to testimony of a medical expert. Thomas was taken into custody about an hour later at his home. 

Testimony from Valerie Bamat and Thomas himself revealed that throughout the evening, he was drinking from a bottle of Bird Dog whiskey that he had purchased prior to arriving at the home. When he took the stand, Thomas stated he was so intoxicated that night that he had no memory of what happened and was actually surprised when he was told that Brett Bamat was dead when he woke up in a jail cell the next day.