A Kalispell man was given an eight-year suspended sentence to the Montana State Prison, less than a year after he beat his girlfriend for unplugging the video game he was playing.
Charles George Burkett appeared at his sentencing hearing on Jan. 28 in Flathead County District Court.
According to court documents, the Kalispell Police Department received a report of an assault on June 10. When the officers arrived at the home on Triple Creek Drive, they found a woman outside upset and crying. The woman told police that she and Burkett had been arguing earlier that day that she told him to leave the house. She then unplugged the television on which Burkett was playing video games.
Burkett allegedly threatened to put her head through the television before jumping over a chair and throwing her to the floor. The woman then said Burkett wrapped his arm around her neck and pinned her against the wall while yelling “do you remember this?” The woman said Burkett was likely referring to a previous incident where he allegedly strangled her and caused her to lose consciousness.
The woman told police that as Burkett strangled her “everything went black.”
The woman said Burkett stopped strangling her when her son walked into the hallway. The woman tried to find her phone and call police but Burkett allegedly grabbed it and threw it against a wall in an attempt to smash it. The woman grabbed the phone and her four children and ran outside.
The officer went inside the home and found Burkett but he declined to speak with law enforcement without an attorney present.
In June 2015, Burkett was charged with felony criminal endangerment, felony partner or family member assault and misdemeanor attempt of criminal destruction or tampering with a communication device. He pleaded not guilty to all three counts.
According to court documents, Burkett was previously convicted of two counts of partner or family member assault in 2005. In that case, he was given a one-year suspended sentence to the Flathead County Detention Center with credit for time served.
During the Jan. 28 sentencing hearing, Judge Robert Allison noted that Burkett had prior felony assault convictions in Washington State.
In September 2014, attorneys forged a plea agreement where Burkett would plead guilty to a charge of felony criminal endangerment in exchange for the other two charges being dropped. Both prosecutors and the defense agreed to recommend a three-year suspended sentence. During the hearing, Deputy County Attorney Travis Ahner noted that the victim in the case, who is still with Burkett, did not cooperate with prosecutors.
Noting Burkett’s lengthy criminal record, which also included a previous DUI conviction, Judge Allison rejected the recommendation and sentenced the man to eight years with the Montana State Prison with all time suspended.
“I’m giving you a chance to make something of your life instead of being an assaultive, drunk criminal,” Allison said. “If you slip up once – if you get another DUI or slap your girlfriend around again – you’re going to Deer Lodge for a long time.”
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