‘Danger to society’ with half a head jailed for savaging shop worker over coffee

A man with half a head will spend a decade behind bars after he viciously battered a man and left him covered in blood.

Authorities in Montana, US, said Robert Matthew Berkopec became violent and assaulted a supermarket employee at his place of work.

In court on Wednesday (August 3), the defendant ironically begged a judge to spare him from being put behind bars because it was "full of violence and hostility" – seemingly unaware of how aggressive his own actions were.

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Ignoring his protestations the judge sentenced Berkopec to 10 years in the Montana State Prison, claiming it was his own violence that put him there.

District Judge Robert Whelan said: "It is an anger-management issue that clearly is a danger to society."

The altercation started over the price of a cup of coffee at Town Pump shop, the court heard.

Berkopec rushed at the worker saying he made his girlfriend cry and "slammed him into the manager office door".

It is then understood Berkopec struck the employee with his fists several times, targeting his face and head, before fleeing the scene.

A business manager was inside an office in the store at the time, and emerged to discover the shop worker “laying on the ground covered in blood and an unknown male was running out of the business”. His injuries have since been treated.

Police were quickly able to track down Berkopec, who admitted everything.

Berkopec was originally charged with aggravated burglary, which carries a 40-year maximum sentence.

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However, a plea deal saw the charge reduced to criminal endangerment – which fetches a much shorter 10-year maximum sentence.

Prosecutors initially considered seeking an even lighter sentence before Berkopec was arrested a second time on June 5 for physically assaulting a woman.

He pleaded guilty following that assault to felony partner-family member assault and Whelan gave him a five-year commitment to the Department of Corrections, to run concurrently to his ten-year prison sentence.

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Prosecutor Ann Shea told the court: “We believe the defendant, given his criminal history, has a propensity toward violence.

“People get injured. He creates victims.”

Berkopec's public defender Walter Hennessey argued for a Department of Corrections commitment instead of prison, claiming it offered Berkopec a better chance at rehabilitation.

Berkopec agreed with his defence, saying "I need help with my anger" and added he had a young son who needed his dad.

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