The transient man accused of savagely beating another man during a dispute over pork chops will spend the next 15 years in the Montana State Prison.

Justin Dwayne King was sentenced Wednesday by Missoula County District Judge Ed McLean for felony assault with a weapon. Prosecutor Patricia Bower told the court “this defendant beat the victim to a bloody pulp,” apparently for stealing King’s cut of meat in a transient camp last October.

“One of the officers testified that he had never seen anything like it,” Bower said. “When the victim approached, he was covered in so much blood he actually thought he had a Halloween mask on.”

According to the affidavit, the attack occurred when King became enraged after discussing the missing pork chop with the victim. A witness told police King struck the victim at least 20 times with a rod and punched the witness in the face when she attempted to intervene.

The victim fell to the ground after the first couple of blows and laid there while King continued to beat him, yelling, “It’s the principle!”

During Wednesday’s hearing, Bower also referred to a pending Missoula Municipal Court case in which King allegedly lifted his own dog to his shoulders and threw the canine to the ground.

“This defendant shows anger not only to animals, but to humans,” she said.

She asked the judge for 10 years in the Montana State Prison, with five years suspended.

King’s attorney, Colin M. Stephens, asked McLean for a significantly more lenient sentence of 10 years with the Department of Corrections, with five years suspended, claiming King still denies the “factual issues” presented at trial.

“I’m really at a loss of words, sir,” King told McLean. “I don’t want to go to prison.”

After imposing the sentence, McLean told the court the violent nature of the crime and King’s disruptive behavior at the jail led him to impose the strict sentence. He said the defendant was not able to conform his behavior to be able to to exist in society.

“It’s not society, sir,” King said, interrupting McLean.

“You cannot be trusted to live in society,” McLean continued.

Among other behaviors he apparently exhibited in the local jail, McLean said King swore at guards, threw his juice, urinated on walls and acted violently toward other inmates.

“Mr. King, with that type of behavior, you cannot be placed under supervision,” McLean said.

Even his own attorney, Stephens, claimed the man’s behavior was “inexcusable.”

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Reporter Kathryn Haake can be reached at 523-5268 or at kate.haake@missoulian.com.

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