Man sentenced to prison for assault

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BENNINGTON — A man convicted of what a prosecutor called a "brutal attack" at a local bar last winter has been sentenced to prison.

Christopher J. Hope Jr. has been detained since the Feb. 18, 2017 assault at JC's Tavern on Depot Street because the offense happened while he was on probation.

Hope pleaded guilty in Bennington criminal court in December to single counts of felony aggravated assault and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

Judge David A. Howard, after a one-hour hearing on Thursday, gave Hope a 30-month to four-year prison sentence for the assault charge, concurrent to a six to 12 month sentence for the resisting arrest charge. Howard also revoked probation in the prior assault case from 2014.

Robert Plunkett, deputy state's attorney, said Hope beat a man unconscious during the altercation that began over an altercation involving Hope's girlfriend.

The victim, 47-year-old Robert Gibbs, suffered a concussion and several lacerations to his head, including one that needed four stitches, according to a court affidavit.

Hope, Plunkett said, "cannot control his anger."

"Time and time again, he's had the chance to better his life," Plunkett said. "He's had that chance for years and he's squandered it."

"He has something many defendants don't: Insight," Defense attorney Arnold N. Gottlieb said of Hope. "He understands what he did, he acknowledges it. He recognizes what he has to do."

Gottlieb said that Hope had a difficult childhood and, during the years he was engaged in criminal behavior, had not been taking medication prescribed to him for mental health issues.

"I don't think he's had a lot of chances at all," Gottlieb said.

Hope needs "something that gives him structure or boundaries," such as furlough in a group home or under a 24-hour curfew and monitoring, Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb said that Hope "maintains it was just one hit."

Howard said a suspended sentence with probation was not appropriate, given Hope was already on probation when the new offense took place.

Howard said it's possible for Hope to work his way to furlough or parole, programs under which he would be released to the community under tight supervision.

Hope has a criminal history in Vermont. He pleaded guilty in September 2015 to aggravated assault and no contest to using a weapon to commit a crime. Hope received a one-to-five year sentence on the first charge and a five-year deferred sentence on the second.

Ed Damon can be reached at edamon@benningtonbanner.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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