HAMILTON – A Hamilton man who shot his neighbor and killed his dog over a disagreement on the ingredients of “red beer” will spend the next 20 years in prison.
Monte Leon Hanson, 60, was sentenced Thursday on a charge of attempted deliberate homicide and a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty. Hanson had pleaded guilty to the charges as part of an agreement that included the 20-year prison term.
On Thursday, Ravalli County District Judge James Haynes tacked on an extra 10 years suspended after noting Hanson’s apparent lack of remorse, documented by the fact that he told another inmate he would do it again if given the chance.
The judge ordered that Hanson not be considered for parole unless the parole board can be certain that he’s not a danger to the public and that he is fully compliant with mental health recommendations, said Deputy Ravalli County Attorney Angela Wetzsteon.
“That was my concern, too,” Wetzsteon said. “He wouldn’t disclose his mental health information to us. Without that, we can’t be sure that he’s not a danger to the community. Until we know that for certain, I don’t think he should be paroled at all.”
Hanson was arrested in May not far from the Hamilton apartment building where he shot his 29-year-old neighbor, Joe Lewis.
Court records said Lewis was working as a bartender at the Rainbow Bar on the night of May 9 when Hanson came in and ordered a “red beer” about 10 p.m.
No long after that, Hanson became angry when he discovered that Lewis had used Clamato instead of tomato juice to make his drink. Hanson said it was against his religion, Judaism, to drink Clamato.
Four hours later, Lewis arrived home. He went inside his apartment and picked up his dog, Jackson, to carry it outside. The dog recently had a toe removed and couldn’t get around very well.
Lewis was still holding his dog when Hanson started shooting.