GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — “Depraved” was the word used by Hall County District Judge William Wright as he sentenced a man to prison for beating a puppy to death with a ball-peen hammer.
Michael J. Berst, 26, of St. Paul, formerly of Grand Island, was sentenced Wednesday to one year and eight months to five years in prison each for cruel mistreatment or mutilation of animals and tampering with physical evidence, which are both felonies. The sentences will be served at the same time.
The charges stem from the April 15 death of a 6-month-old pit bull mix named Buddy.
In addition, he was ordered not to possess or own any animals for five years after his release.
Berst was also sentenced to two years and six months to five years in prison for burglary for a Nov. 10, 2013, incident. The burglary sentence will be served after the sentences in the animal cruelty case.
State sentencing guidelines will cut those terms in half.
According to a search warrant affidavit, Berst told a friend he killed Buddy after the puppy relieved himself on the floor.
In court Wednesday, Deputy Hall County Public Defender Vicky Kenney said her client was a drug addict in need of treatment.