KALISPELL, Mont. — A Montana man who was arrested for toppling a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of a county courthouse with a chain and his pickup truck this past summer has been found guilty.
Flathead County District Court Judge Amy Eddy found Anthony Weimer, 30, of Columbia Falls guilty of felony criminal mischief after he requested a bench trial instead of a jury trial.
He now faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 21.
The Flathead Beacon reports that Eddy wrote in her findings that Weimer, despite pleading not guilty, admitted to committing the act. His attorney also argued that the monument was a public nuisance, being a point of controversy, and he therefore had legal standing to uproot 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,” the outlet states.
As previously reported, those in the vicinity of the Flathead County Courthouse on the afternoon of June 27 called police after they noticed a man wrapping a chain around the Ten Commandments monument stationed outside of the facility.
They reported that the man then attached the chain to his truck and drug the monument out into the southbound land of South Main Street.
NBC Montana reports that the individual removed the chain after uprooting the Decalogue and left the scene.
The Kalispell Police Department, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Highway Patrol all responded to reports that the granite monument had been uprooted. Video footage shows officers helping to push the monument onto a tractor or bulldozer scoop to lift it out of the road.
According to the Associated Press, the Fraternal Order of Eagles donated the monument to Flathead County in the 1960s. Following threat of a lawsuit in 2004, the Eagles sought to purchase other pieces that would make the display about the history of law in America to broaden its meaning.
The organization asked the City in 2012 to take possession of the display and move it Depot Park, but city council declined, citing concerns about being sued over separation of Church and State violations.
The various other monuments that make up the “Cornerstone of Law” display at the courthouse include the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Bill of Rights and the preambles to the U.S. and Montana constitutions.
As previously reported, more than a dozen Christian billboards erected on a 10-acre plot of land in Columbia Falls, known as “God’s Ten Commandments Park,” were vandalized in 2015.
The signs had been created by horse rancher Phillip Klevmoen. 17 out the 21 billboards were either defaced with spraypaint or slashed with a knife over a two-month period.
“We want this to go forward throughout the nation. You can see what’s happening to the country,” Klevmoen told reporters in 2014. “Not only are we forgetting Him, we are kicking Him out of our society.”