Friday, March 05, 2021

Man sentenced for tearing out 10 Commandments monument

| February 5, 2021 5:35 AM

A man convicted of vandalizing a Ten Commandments monument at the Flathead County Courthouse in Kalispell last summer was recently sentenced in Flathead County District Court.

Anthony Craig Weimer, 30, of Kalispell, was found guilty Nov. 24, 2020, of felony criminal mischief by District Judge Amy Eddy after a one-day bench trial.

Weimer was sentenced to three years deferred and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $6,900 to Montana Association of Counties Property & Casualty Trust. The company paid the bill for work done to restore the monument. Also, Weimer received nine days credit for time he spent in county jail before posting bail.

The monument, which was damaged when Weimer attached a heavy chain to it and drug it on to South Main Street, has been refurbished and placed on its base near the county attorney’s office.

Weimer, who admitted to the offense while on the witness stand, said after the verdict he wished he would have represented himself. Weimer said his reasoning for pulling the monument from its location was that he wanted it in front of the courthouse.

After the guilty verdict, Weimer filed a number of motions, including one for a new trial. In it, Weimer wrote “unreservedly commands the Court change the findings for that Anthony Craig Weimer is not guilty.”

District Judge Amy Eddy ruled against the motion because Weimer was asking for the verdict to be changed from guilty to not guilty. She did write that Weimer could appeal for a new trial to the Montana Supreme Court and if his defense counsel, Greg Rapkoch, didn’t effectively represent him, he could also appeal to the Supreme Court.

Flathead Deputy County Attorney Stacy Boman presented the state’s case while Rapkoch of the county Public Defender’s Office defended Weimer.

According to court documents, the Ten Commandments monument was a gift from the Kalispell Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 234 in June 1950. In 1968, it was placed on county land near the front door of the old courthouse.

In 2004, after some community members opposed the location of the monument, the county commissioners approved moving it to a different location on county property near the County Attorney’s office and the overflow jail.

ACCORDING TO the criminal complaint against Weimer, callers reporting the incident

described a man driving a white “dually” pickup who had pulled down the Ten Commandments granite tablet and it was partially in the road at 800 South Main St. in front of the Flathead County Justice Center.

Kalispell Police officers saw the stone in the street along with damage to the face of the stone.

Boman, who said Weimer rejected more than one plea agreement before the trial, began the state’s case with a local man, Kevin Hunt, who said he saw a white pickup truck on the lawn while he and his wife were driving south on U.S. 93. Hunt followed Weimer while he called 911.

Rapkoch said in his closing argument during the bench trial that he believed the charges should be dropped or Weimer found not guilty because proof of ownership hadn’t been proven, the value of the stone at the time it was made was not known and Montana law requires the defendant knowingly damaged government property.

After closing arguments, Judge Eddy returned with her decision of guilty in less than 10 minutes.