Victim's Refusal to Cooperate Means No Charges in Neo-Nazi Stabbing at Ritz

The Palm Beach State Attorney's Office has elected not to file charges in a stabbing that took place in October at the Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan during a speech by a neo-Nazi historian.

The prosecutor's close-out memo released this morning cites interviews with those involved as well as footage from a hotel security camera in finding that Christopher Nachtman may have acted in self-defense when he stabbed -- and nearly killed -- John Kopko.

The memo is consistent with what Juice has previously reported about the incident: that an argument between Kopko, 43 at the time, and Nachtman, 31, started inside a conference room where Holocaust denier David Irving was giving a speech in promotion of his book.

According to what Kopko told police, Nachtman said he was going to "kick my ass." But investigators found that it was Kopko who invited Nachtman outside to settle their beef and that Kopko's two sons joined the huddle.

Surveillance cameras tell what happened next: that in a hotel hallway, Kopko and his two sons surrounded Nachtman on three sides. The footage allegedly shows Nachtman diving at the elder Kopko's knees, taking him to the ground. But Kopko was able to gain an advantage in the wrestling match to follow, and according to the memo, his 18-year-old son, Robert, joined the fray, kicking Nachtman.

The video of the fracas, which lasted about 45 seconds, doesn't show the stabbing.

The memo indicates that Kopko gave only a brief statement about the incident and that he "refused to discuss the nature of the argument and the motive for Mr. Nachtman's actions." Kopko's sons and wife also refused to cooperate with police, and Kopko signed a refusal to prosecute form.

That lack of cooperation, "impaired" the investigation, according to Assistant State Attorney Michael Morgan, who wrote the memo. His analysis of the available evidence found that it was possible that Nachtman pulled the knife as a way to "change the dynamic" of a fight that he was losing. In that respect, it appears he may have had a credible case to make for acting in self-defense.

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