Religious separatist sentenced to long prison term

May 16, 2002
By Rick Ross

Richfield -- Religious separatist Tony Alexander Hamilton, might spend the rest of his life in prison for shooting a Beaver County sheriff's deputy.

Judge K.L. McIff sentenced the Hamilton and others during May 2000 hearing in the 6th District Court. 58-year-old Hamilton was found guilty by a jury on five counts, which included two felonies. All the charges are a direct result of a shootout between Hamilton and sheriff's deputies. Hamilton shot Sgt. John Chambers, who was left with shattered leg and he also killed a police dog.

Hamilton received 5 years to life for shooting Chambers, and as much as five years for each of his other convictions. He also was sentenced one year for killing the dog, six months for interfering with an arrest, three months for criminal trespass. All of his terms will run consecutively.

Iron County prosecutor Scott Burns said, "He will probably do 20 years in prison and the citizens of Beaver County are finally safe." Hamilton said nothing.

This was the end of a fifteen year conflict. The "Immanuel Foundation and Fraternity of Preparation," which once included Hamilton, bought 640 acres in Vance Springs located in western Beaver County. The group built homes, a church, underground shelters and put up a 7-foot-high barbwire surrounding their compound. They then claimed to be above any secular laws and filed for tax-exempt status.

However, their land was ultimately auctioned off for back taxes in 1994. But not all of the group members left the area. In June 1996 Beaver officials evicted more members without incident. During July 1999 Hamilton and two other members moved back into the compound.

On a morning that following September, Sheriff's deputies attempted to evict Hamilton. Hamilton refused to leave and shot Chambers in the leg, killed a police dog and threatening another officer.

Hamilton said in court that he only shot in self-defense. But the jury found him guilty, though they acquitted him of the charge of attempted aggravated murder.

Hamilton's lawyer said they would appeal the verdict. Hamilton was then moved to a prison facility in Gunnison.

Notes: This article was based upon "Religious Separatist Gets Up to Life After Wounding Deputy, Killing Dog," Salt Lake Tribune, May 20, 2000 By Thomas Burr

Copyright © 2002 Rick Ross.

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