Bank robber, ex-jail guard evade efforts to block marriage

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - Despite the determined efforts of Pierce County sheriff's deputies, prosecutors and court officials, a bank robber managed to marry a former jail guard who lost her job after being accused of having sex with him.

The wedding day for Jimi James Hamilton, 28, and Sara Camarillo, 29, was Tuesday, a day before he was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison for a pair of bank robberies.

Sheriff's deputies have asked prosecutors to determine how no one noticed the nuptials after authorities rejected the couple's requests to be married. Hamilton tried but failed to get a jailhouse wedding included in his plea agreement, and county Superior Court Judge Katherine M. Stolz wouldn't let them say their vows in her courtroom, either.

"There was no religious ceremony," Detective Ed Troyer said. "That never happened. They were never together."

Even so, the required marriage form bearing Hamilton's and Camarillo's signatures was received Wednesday at the county auditor's office and duly stamped and authorized.

Washington state law, it turns out, requires that two witnesses be present and that the bride and groom declare their willingness to marry, but does not specify they must be together when they do so.

"I didn't know you could do that if you weren't in the same room at the same time," Deputy Prosecutor Phillip K. Sorenson said. "Obviously, whatever representations are on the form have to be accurate."

"It's such a manipulation of the system," Troyer groused.

William T. Ferrell, a lawyer, signed the form certifying the marriage. One witness was Leslie E. Tolzin, Hamilton's lawyer. The second witness' name is illegible, The News Tribune of Tacoma reported.

Ferrell could not be reached for comment by the newspaper, but Tolzin said Ferrell was qualified to conduct the wedding as a minister.

"He is ordained so that he can perform marriages, and he is authorized to perform marriages," Tolzin said. "It was a legal wedding."

He said he didn't understand the fuss.

"What's it to them?" Tolzin said. "Security wasn't breached.

"We asked them to cooperate. They didn't want to cooperate. Why do they care? I really don't think that this is anybody's concern. Who cares? This is their personal, private life."

Hamilton, whose record includes a bank robbery conviction in 1999, was accused of destruction of property and throwing feces at a jail guard but related charges were dropped in the plea agreement.

Camarillo, who resigned in September after being faced with likely dismissal, was arrested for investigation of custodial misconduct and was released on bail paid by Hamilton's mother but has not been charged.

The couple did make it to the same courtroom but not together. When the handcuffed groom glanced toward his smiling bride, seated in the spectator's section behind him, guards ordered him to turn around and face the judge.

Prosecutors recommended a 10-year, three-month prison term, but Stolz said Hamilton deserved the maximum under state sentencing guidelines.

The conviction left him one violent offense away from a mandatory life prison term.

Toward the end of the hearing, he addressed the judge.

"Your honor, I got a question," he said. "Was justice served in America today?"

"I think so," Stolz said. "With your track record, I think you're going to be back in front of us, and you're going to go away for life."