Man found guilty of vandalizing Ten Commandments monument in Kalispell
The Western News | November 27, 2020 7:00 AM
A man accused of vandalizing a Ten Commandments monument at the Flathead County Courthouse in Kalispell earlier this summer was found guilty Monday in Flathead County District Court.
Anthony Craig Weimer, 30, of Kalispell, was found guilty of felony criminal mischief by District Judge Amy Eddy after the one-day bench trial.
Flathead Deputy County Attorney Stacy Boman presented the state’s case while Greg Rapkoch of the county Public Defender's Office defended Weimer.
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.
“It represents law and to me it’s hidden,” he said. “I also believe the government placing the Ten Commandments on its property is offensive to God.”
He also said he believed the monument to be public property and he believes each citizen has the potential to own the monument.
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.
Other smaller granite monuments that flank the Ten Commandments monument and weren’t damaged include the Montana Constitution, U.S. Constitution, U.S. Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta and Mayflower Compact.
Weimer also said his dissatisfaction with the result of a lawsuit he filed in 2018 was another reason for his actions.
Weimer sued Google, Microsoft, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communication Commission because he said they allowed him access to internet pornography websites before he was 18 years of age. He said he was nearly entrapped by federal officers because of his access to the material on a wireless device. Weimer also claimed he sustained physical injury, including genital mutilation and maiming, as well as spiritual lostness, morals and the near loss of life. The suit was dismissed, but Weimer appealed.
Weimer nearly pulled the plug on Rapkoch’s representation Monday morning.
After one witness to the crime testified, Kalispell Police Sgt. Chad Fetveit testified. When Rapkoch began his cross examination, Weimer said he wanted to ask questions of Fetveit.
Judge Eddy explained to Weimer that once an attorney has been retained only that attorney may ask questions.
She called for a five-minute recess so they could speak, but Weimer said he elected to stick with Rapkoch.
Weimer initially was jailed on June 27 on $10,000 bail. He was released after posting the bond. His maximum sentence is 10 years in prison with a $50,000 fine.
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 and 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.
Hunt and his wife were driving south on U.S. 93
“He waved to us after we pulled over to watch him,” Hunt said. “He then threw the chain on the ground. We watched while he yanked the monument from its base. After he yanked it into the street, he got out and unhooked the chain and drove off.”
Hunt then followed Weimer while he called 911. He watched as Weimer was pulled over by Kalispell Police officer John Fusaro in front of Kalispell Police headquarters.
“He had a pistol in a chest holster and it was one of the first things I saw,” Fusaro said.
The officer identified Weimer through his driver’s license and passport. Fusaro said when he asked Weimer why he was being stopped, Weimer said “Ten Commandments.”
Fusaro said because of the presence of the gun and the investigation into the vandalism, he had Weimer exit the truck. He then saw Weimer was carrying another gun in a holster on his hip.
OTHERS WHO testified for the state included two owners of monument companies, one from Kalispell and one from Missoula. They testified to the cost of replacing the stone tablet and their respective efforts.
The county opted to go with the Missoula-based company, which is repairing the monument at a cost much less than what the other company estimated would take to replace it with a new monument. Work is expected to be finished sometime in January.
Rapkoch said in his closing argument 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 in less than 10 minutes.
She scheduled a pre-sentence investigation and set Weimer’s sentencing date for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21.
Weimer has had a run-in with the legal system before.
According to an Associated Press report, Weimer was one of three boys accused in 2003 of setting fires, vandalism and thefts. He was charged in Youth Court. Police said then the boys set one fire that caused $50,000 damage to a home under construction. Others burned open land, while one was set at a home in which the occupant was sleeping.
The trio also was accused of stealing several items, primarily cellphones, in a spree from August to September that year. Court documents listed 13 victims.