{{featured_button_text}}
Joseph Polak

Joseph Polak arrives in Yellowstone County District Court for a sentencing hearing Thursday.

After a retrial, a Billings man is facing the same prison term he originally received in a fatal 2015 shooting in the Heights.

Joseph Richard Polak II was sentenced again to 70 years in prison for killing Scotty Hofferber, 29, on April 28, 2015.

Hofferber and Polak were recent acquaintances. Polak has maintained he shot Hofferber in a split-second decision, fearing for his own safety. But during his first trial in 2016, and again during his retrial, jurors rejected his self-defense claims.

In August, Yellowstone County District Judge Rod Souza denied his request for a third trial.

Polak’s 70-year sentence will run consecutively with the 10-year sentence for criminal endangerment he’s serving for ramming a patrol car and reversing into a marshal’s vehicle.

Joseph Polak

Joseph Polak reads a statement in Yellowstone County District Court for a sentencing hearing Thursday.

In 2015, Polak visited the Lake Elmo Mobile Court at about 2:30 a.m. with a friend. Polak said he’d gone to the mobile home park to retrieve money related to a car sale.

After a brief encounter with Hofferber, Polak shot him and ran away with his friend. He did not contact police and avoided being caught, the judge noted.

“Those are not the facts of a law-abiding citizen conducting a car deal, caught up in an unfortunate life-death situation,” Souza said.

Ed Zink, chief deputy of criminal litigation in the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office, said Polak’s criminal history included domestic violence convictions and violating an order of protection sought to stop harassment.

Joseph Polak

Ed Zink, deputy chief of criminal litigation for the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office, left, along with Senior Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Ann-Marie McKittrick, presents the state's sentencing recommendation in Yellowstone County District Court during Joseph Polak's sentencing hearing Thursday.

Joseph Polak

Amber Hofferber, the mother of victim Scott Hofferber, talks about the impact of her son's death in Yellowstone County District Court during Joseph Polak's sentencing hearing Thursday.

“This defendant, unfortunately, has been a blight on Billings and on many of the people around him for many, many years, and his criminal history reflects that,” Zink said.

Amber Hofferber, Scotty’s stepmother, said there was “still a lot of anger and pain and grief in our family.”

Shawn Hofferber, Scotty’s father, said his other sons could not bring themselves to attend any of the hearings for Polak.

“Nothing is ever going to be the same,” he said. “You certainly can’t have holidays and expect anything to be the same.”

Joseph Polak

Shawn Hofferber, the father of victim Scott Hofferber, talks about the impact of his son's death in Yellowstone County District Court during Joseph Polak's sentencing hearing Thursday.

Defense attorney Jami Rebsom asked for 20 years in prison, with 10 years suspended.

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

“This is not a man who doesn’t respect human life,” Rebsom said. “This is not a man who doesn’t think of the Hofferber family every single day when he sits incarcerated.”

A statement submitted by Polak’s sister, Chelsea Dickson, said she was grateful her brother had spent time behind bars because it allowed for “the lengthy introspection” he needed.

Joseph Polak

Defense Attorney Jami Rebsom hands family photos to Susan Garcia, the mother of Joseph Polak, for her statement about her son's upbringing to Judge Rod Souza in Yellowstone County District Court during Polak's sentencing hearing Thursday.

“He sees now the time he has lost and it has given him a drive to better himself for the sake of himself, his children, his family,” Dickson wrote.

Polak was married in August, his attorney said in court Thursday. Polak has been in the Yellowstone County Detention Facility since late August, and before that was held in the Montana State Prison.

Souza said Polak’s mother’s testimony about raising three children as a single working parent was “impressive" and it was clear Polak cared about his own children. 

“And I am very sensitive to the fact that there are two families here today that are hurting very badly,” the judge said.

But the judge said Polak was a safety risk to the community and should not have likely owned a firearm at the time of the shooting, due to past convictions for domestic violence offenses. 

Joseph Polak

Susan Garcia, the mother of Joseph Polak, talks about her son's upbringing to Judge Rod Souza in Yellowstone County District Court during Polak's sentencing hearing Thursday.

Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.
1
1
0
2
3