The 30-year-old Columbia Falls man who chained a granite slab engraved with the Ten Commandments to his truck and yanked it into a busy Kalispell street was found guilty of felony criminal mischief on Monday and now faces up to 10 years in prison.
Anthony Craig Weimer stood trial in front of Flathead County District Court Judge Amy Eddy, who ruled on the case from the bench. Eddy found Weimer guilty of the only count he was facing and scheduled his sentencing for Jan. 21. Felony criminal mischief carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
According to Eddy’s written findings, Weimer admitted to chaining the monument to his truck and pulling it into Main Street on June 27, dragging it several feet and then leaving it in the southbound lane of traffic directly in front of the Flathead County Justice Center at 920 S. Main Street. Several people witnessed the incident and the monument, which is one of several granite slabs on display at the old courthouse building at 800 S. Main Street, suffered significant damage. A trust company has paid Flathead County $14,475 to cover the potential cost of repairs.
Because of its religious heritage, the Ten Commandments monument has been the source of some controversy in the last decade, with one legal challenge prompting supporters to buy six additional non-religious monuments to place near the Ten Commandments in order to gain protection via “cornerstone of law” provisions. The Fraternal Order of Eagles gifted the monument to Flathead County in June 1950.
In her ruling, Eddy dismissed a claim made by Weimer’s attorney that the monument represented a public nuisance and that, as such, Weimer had legal standing to remove it. Eddy did not address the legality of the monument, writing that such a determination was irrelevant in this case, explaining that even if the monument were found to be a public nuisance Weimer’s action was unjustified as there was no emergency necessitating its immediate removal.
Weimer is currently free on bond.
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