A man accused in the April 2011 beating death of a Terre Haute man received a 10-year prison sentence Wednesday after a judge accepted a plea agreement for a class-B felony charge of aggravated battery.
Anton Grant, 44, formerly of Lafayette, has already served 572 days in the Vigo County Jail waiting trial in the death of Raymond “Benny” Hamilton, 53.
Hamilton died a few days after he was beaten with a shotgun in the early morning hours of April 3, 2011 at his apartment in the 1100 block of Seventh Avenue. He identified Grant to police as his attacker.
“It is with some reluctance that I accept this,” Judge John Roach said of the plea agreement, which dismissed a charge of murder. But Roach noted that Grant could face additional time behind bars if his parole is violated in Tippecanoe County because of this Vigo County conviction.
At the time of the incident, Terre Haute Police stated that Hamilton was able to give police the name of a suspect in the case, and told police that he had been beaten with the butt end of a shotgun. Hamilton was treated at Union Hospital for his injuries, but checked himself out of the hospital and died few days later.
Thomas Hamilton, older brother of Raymond, made a victim impact statement to the court during the sentencing hearing, stating that he disagreed with the prosecution’s decision not to take the case to trial.
“I think this was preplanned,” he said of his brother’s attack and death.
Thomas Hamilton stated that many people in the neighborhood where his brother lived were afraid of Grant, and people knew that Grant — who was on parole for a battery conviction in Tippecanoe County — possessed the shotgun used in the incident. That gun was never located by investigators.
“He intentionally wanted to kill my brother,” Hamilton said. “Why he done this is beyond me. This is premeditated murder.”
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rob Roberts stated in court that the Hamilton family has been advised that there was the risk that Grant could be acquitted at trial and serve no additional jail time.
The children of Raymond Hamilton have filed a medical malpractice suit against Union Hospital, Judge Roach noted, and that could lead a jury to determine that Hamilton’s death was the result of medical error, not the attack by Grant.
“There is a risk the jury could decide this is malpractice and not a crime,” Roach said.
Grant had been set for trial Oct. 15, but signed the plea agreement offer from the prosecution.
Thomas Hamilton’s wife, Ella Mae, spoke to news media after the sentencing hearing, and said the loss of her brother-in-law due to a violent crime has been devastating to the family.
“I didn’t see any remorse with this person,” she said of Grant. “It was just like it was a laughing matter.”
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.