A federal appeals court has denied a convicted heroin dealer’s claim that his prosecution violated his right of religious freedom.
Timothy Anderson, 40, argued that federal prosecutors in St. Louis violated his rights because distributing heroin was “an exercise of (his) sincerely held religious belief.”
Anderson’s effort to present that argument at his trial was denied by a judge.
A jury subsequently convicted Anderson, and he was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison.
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On Wednesday, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied his appeal of the conviction.
According to Anderson’s argument, he is a student of “esoteric and mysticism studies.”
He said that he had created a religious nonprofit to provide heroin to the “sick, lost, blind, lame, deaf and dead members of God’s Kingdom,” according to the appeals court ruling.
In rejecting Anderson’s claim, the appeals court found that the government had not violated the religious freedom act because it had a “compelling interest” in combating heroin trafficking and that it had employed the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.