Casino stabbing case moves forward
March 7, 2006
Two casino security guards testified on Tuesday that they initially didn’t know their necks were cut by a knife-wielding patron who had been told to leave a nightclub for being on the DJ stage.
David Gontang thought he was hit with a small stun gun. Ahmet Albayrha realized it was his own blood covering his black shirt about 15 seconds after scuffling with the patron outside the entrance to Altitude nightclub on the night of Nov. 27.
Two counts of attempted murder, along with two counts of battery with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm and battery with a deadly weapon, were upheld against 25-year-old Bay Area DJ Justin Ready, known also as MC Fader.
Ready’s preliminary hearing, where witnesses testify and evidence is presented to determine whether there is enough cause to continue the case, was held Tuesday at Tahoe Township Justice Court. He will next appear in court in Gardnerville for an arraignment where he will enter a plea on March 20 at 9 a.m.
“You go forward from here and this was a very important stage in the proceedings but not a dispositive stage because ultimately it’s a jury that will be given the responsibility to decide whether the state has sufficient evidence to prove the charges they alleged,” said Ready’s attorney, Dirk Manoukian.
Gontang, a Harrah’s Lake Tahoe security guard, testified he spotted Ready on the stage, ordered him down and escorted him out of the club when Ready talked back to him.
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Gontang said he repeatedly told Ready to “call it a night.” Gontang was in the process of snapping off Ready’s wristband used for entry when Ready grabbed the security guard’s shirt in the chest area. Gontang said he did the same to Ready.
During the struggle, Gontang felt a “sting” when Ready seemed to push at the right side of his neck. Although Gontang testified he didn’t see the knife, he said he saw copious amounts of blood.
“It wasn’t a drip,” he said. “It was streaming out of my neck onto his back.”
Albayrha, a security guard with Reno’s Event Services, was tending to his usual job of checking identifications and wristbands on a slow Sunday night when entry cost $5 and drinks $1.
Albayrha said he was “two steps” from Gontang when Ready and Gontang grabbed each other’s shirts. In an attempt to subdue Ready, Albayrha first tried to pin the deejay’s arms back then attempted a headlock. He said he didn’t see the knife and discovered he was bleeding moments later. Months after the attack and 18 stitches later, a thick and uneven four-inch scar was visible on Albayrha’s neck as he spoke on the witness stand.
“That night was out of control actually,” Albayrha said.
Gontang said he didn’t know Albayrha’s actions or whereabouts during the scuffle.
“You’re cut too?'” Gontang said he remembered asking Albayrha on his way to get treatment for his wounds.
As the security guards were transported by helicopter to Washoe Medical Center in Reno for their injuries – Gontang said the jugular vein and carotid artery were injured while both guards needed surgery and hospitalization for two days – Ready fled to a friend’s house behind Lakeside Inn and Casino.
Jason Jackson testified Ready entered his house scared and “shaken up.” Ready told him he didn’t want security to take him into a “back room.” Ready used a washcloth to clean blood from his skin, Jackson said.
“He had blood on him; on his shoes, on his shirt,” Jackson said. “He had a bump on his forehead.”
Manoukian focused on the two attempted murder counts, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to support the charges. The security guards not feeling their wounds was related to the force used, Manoukian said.
“How can you specifically intend to kill and not make an effort?” he said.
The attorney stressed excessive force was used in handling his client and highlighted Ready running from the scene after the incident.
“As soon as he got any space he didn’t make any gesture to them. He turned and ran,” Manoukian added.
Deputy District Attorney Dina Salvucci countered that the security guards didn’t feel their wounds because of the sharpness of the small folding knife, which was handed to authorities in its box when Ready turned himself in Dec. 6. Manoukian said Ready purchased it for his job in a health food store.
Robert Ready, Justin’s father from Lubbock, Texas, sat in court.
“The truth will set Justin free,” he said.
Ready remains in the custody of Douglas County Jail with bail set at $200,000. He faces a maximum of 16 to 40 years in prison upon conviction for the two counts of attempted murder alone.