WAILUKU - A 33-year-old man has been convicted of assaulting a bouncer whose jugular vein was cut when he was stabbed with a beer bottle at a Kihei bar three years ago.
In a verdict returned Monday, a 2nd Circuit Court jury found Raymond Tasini guilty of second-degree assault.
He had been facing the more serious charge of first-degree assault for what Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani described as a "false crack with a beer bottle" to bouncer Henry Stant.
"Henry had no chance to block the blow, and Henry had no chance to prepare for the blow," Tani said in his closing arguments to jurors Oct. 28.
The assault occurred shortly after 1 a.m. Nov. 10, 2007, while Stant was working as a bouncer at Lulu's bar in Kihei Kalama Village.
He testified the bar was nearly empty when a customer he knows as "Louie" came to the door and asked if he could go in to talk to his uncle who was sitting at a table. Later, when he saw another customer at the uncle's table hitting Louie over the head with a beer bottle, Stant said, he moved toward the two.
Stant said he had separated Louie and the other man and had turned his attention to Louie to see if he was injured. That's when Stant said he felt what he thought was a punch to the right side of his neck.
He felt a "twinge of pain that goes down to the center of your mass when something bad is happening to you inside," Stant said. He felt something wet and hot on the side of his shirt and when he touched his neck, his hand was covered in blood.
The 50-year-old identified Tasini as the man who struck him and was still holding the bloodied beer bottle. "I turn and I look at the guy," Stant said. "He's got this sick twisted smile."
Stant said he became dizzy and lay down until medics arrived and took him to the hospital.
An emergency room doctor testified the injury put Stant at substantial risk of death through blood loss if it hadn't been treated, Tani said.
Testifying in his defense, Tasini gave a different account of how Stant was injured.
Tasini intervened when he saw that a conversation between his uncle and Louie wasn't going well, said Deputy Public Defender Adriel Menor. He said Tasini and Louie ended up in a struggle for a bottle on the table.
Tasini said he was being grabbed on the shoulder when he turned and struck Stant in a backhand motion, Menor said. "This happens in a matter of seconds," he said. "It was completely accidental."
During closing arguments to jurors Oct. 28, Menor said Tasini felt he had to act to protect himself and felt threatened by two other men in the bar with Louie.
Tasini, who lives in Pittsburg, Calif., is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 28 on the charge, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
Judge Joseph Cardoza presided over the trial.
In another case, Tasini is awaiting trial on a charge of second-degree assault for allegedly striking a man with a bottle outside a Lahaina nightclub in 2008.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.