Attack on Justin Hamilton has provoked outrage, as well as community support
Lakeville resident Juttin Hamilton’s life has been forever changed by a vicious attack, which was instigated by a person he considered a friend. The attack on Hamilton, who is developmentally disabled, occurred over the period of two days, Oct. 10-11. It is a crime that has shocked and angered many people.
Hamilton, 24, was kidnapped and taken to a secluded area near Northfield, then kicked, beaten with branches and a baton, burned and robbed by a group of five people. The brutality and torture he went through lasted several hours on each day he was held in captivity. On the second day, he was tied to a tree with a belt. His neck was burned with a lighter and his stomach with a heated credit card. Is it any wonder that this young man will suffer from these scars, internal and external, for years to come?
Hamilton was eventually released to find his way home in the dark. He managed to find his way to a road at around 2 a.m. Oct. 12. An unidentified Good Samaritan took him to the Northfield Police station where a complaint was filed against the people who assaulted him. He then was taken to the Northfield Hospital for treatment of his injuries, which included broken ribs, cuts, bruises and burns.
The Dakota County Attorney’s office is pursing multiple charges against the five people involved in the assault on Hamilton. “The people who victimized Justin did not release him and take him to the hospital; they left him to find his way home at 2 a.m. and in a seriously weakened state. I’ll go for a lengthy prison term if we attain a conviction,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom.
Carolyn Hamilton is Justin Hamilton’s mother. Access Press received an update on Justin Hamilton before going to press. “I have been out of town with Justin for a little over a week,” his mother wrote. “I took him to a place where we have gone on vacation all of his life. It was very comforting to him. He was able to relax in a hot tub, which eased his physical pain.”
Carolyn Hamilton stated. “We are unsure at this time of what the lasting effects of these injuries will be.” Justin was kicked repeatedly in the spine and kidneys. Fractured ribs make it difficult for him to sleep and he is still medicated to deal with constant pain. His internal bleeding has stopped and his cuts and lacerations are healing, although he is likely to have permanent skin damage. He may need plastic surgery due to some external injuries and he still has swelling in his face, eye, head and neck areas, his vision is returning to normal. We have been informed that bruising to the extent Justin is bruised will often remain discolored for life.”
Carolyn Hamilton said her son continues to be terrified, waking up screaming and begging his father to go everywhere with him. “He is being treated for a variety of issues stemming from being tortured. He is very uneasy and afraid that they will find him again. It is difficult to see Justin now, fearful of everyone. It is this part we are working on the hardest,” she said.
The family has been encouraged by the support they have received from the community. Offers of events tickets, the chance to meet professional athletes, cards, letters, emails and gifts to replace items stolen from Hamilton have poured in. “He received a handmade picture from a six-year-old disabled boy with a big smiley face and a get well message. He asked that I tape it to his wall.” Carolyn Hamilton said that kind of encouragement and support has been very helpful to the entire Hamilton family.
Anyone wanting to help the family defray medical costs can contribute to Wells Fargo Bank (For the benefit of Justin Charles Hamilton), 16817 Duluth Ave. SE, Prior Lake, MN 55372. The family also has set up a Web site, at www. justinhamiltonfund.com
Backstrom has outlined the many charges against those involved in the attack. The men each face multiple felony charges including kidnapping, robbery, assault and false imprisonment. “I’ll try to get them to pay the maximum penalty for this serious crime carried out against a vulnerable adult,” said Backstrom.
The crimes against Justin Hamilton have been shocking for many reasons. What has outraged people is that two of the men charged were Minnesota National Guard members, Jonathan Michael Diepold and John Maxwell Maniglia. They kicked Hamilton with military boots and beat his legs with a police-style baton. Two other men charged in the attack are Timothy John Ketterling and Glen Richard Ries. Reis’ involvement is upsetting to many in the disability community because he has worked with vulnerable adults in the past.
Hamilton’s attackers will also be charged with a crime of bias. Backstrom was asked if a crime motivated by bias is the same as a crime motivated by hate.
“There’s not a separate charge” in Minnesota law between a crime of bias and a crime of hate, the county attorney explained. “The first time offense of a crime of bias is a gross misdemeanor, and a repeated offense of a bias crime is a felony.” The conviction on motivation based on bias can be used as a factor to enhance sentences of other crimes upon conviction.
Backstrom was also asked if Hamilton or his family will seek restitution. That will be the case. “Treatment and counseling doesn’t stop with the healing of wounds. Hamilton may need ongoing counseling,” he said.
Charges have also been filed against Natasha Dahn, 16, of Lakeville. Dahn, who had recently befriended Hamilton, allegedly encouraged the attackers and told Maniglia that Hamilton had assaulted her. Dahn and Maniglia are dating; Dahn admitted to police she made up the story about Hamilton. Dahn has been petitioned into juvenile court but could be tried as an adult.