Emily Welker, Published April 01 2013
Man who punched out Fargo grandpa who chided him for cussing gets one-year sentence
Calling the case “troubling,” prosecutors sought a three-year prison term for Brenden Marjama, 29, a day laborer from California, in exchange for his guilty pleas on two counts of aggravated assault, both Class C felonies, a longer sentence than recommended by probation officers.
“These were apparently random attacks outside restaurants – not the kind of thing we want to tolerate in our community,” said Renata Selzler, an assistant Cass County state’s attorney.
Marjama was accused in court documents of punching a Fargo grandfather, Bob Matthews, who asked Marjama to lower his voice because he was swearing loudly at the restaurant.
Police reports stated that Marjama and a companion then ran across the street to the nearby Hooters restaurant, attacking another man after demanding his wallet. Prosecutors dropped a robbery charge.
Marjama apologized in court Monday, saying his girlfriend had cheated on him that day, Sept. 26, and that he was so drunk he didn’t remember much of what happened.
“I want to say I’m sorry to the victims, and nothing like this has ever occurred before. I used poor judgment,” said Marjama, who added the breakup was no excuse for his drinking.
He asked the court to allow him to send letters of apology to the victims and offered to do manual labor as a way of reparations.
Matthews, who attended the sentencing, wasn’t in a forgiving mood.
“All bad men have good apologies,” he said.
Defense attorney Gordon Dexheimer sought a time-served sentence for the 192 days Marjama been in the Cass County Jail, and that the conviction be allowed to convert to a misdemeanor.
Dexheimer said Marjama entered Alford pleas – not admitting guilty, but acknowledging there was enough evidence to convict him – because he didn’t remember the incident.
Cass County District Court Judge Douglas Herman told the defense the case was “bizarre and extreme violent behavior,” noting neither man Marjama knocked unconscious was the men responsible for his cheating girlfriend.
Herman also pointed out Matthews had a small child with him, and the other man’s nose was broken.
He gave Marjama credit for his time served and also ordered him to three years of supervised probation.
Matthews said regardless of whether he complied with alcohol treatment as part of his sentence, he fully expected Marjama to wind up back in court.
And if faced with another loudmouth in a family restaurant, Matthews said he’d confront the culprit again, in spite of getting knocked unconscious.
“This is Fargo – you’ve got to behave,” he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541