ENCINITAS — A man accused of stabbing two U.S. Navy servicemen outside a downtown Encinitas bar is heading to a jury trial in October, a Vista judge ruled earlier this month.
Anthony Martin Osterwalder, 21, has pled not guilty to multiple charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a stabbing on Feb. 19 outside of 1st Street Bar along Coast Highway 101.
Osterwalder’s trial is scheduled for Oct. 24.
The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office alleges that Osterwalder stabbed Alexander Felton, 31, and Daniel Tomicich, 21, both Navy explosive ordinance disposal technicians, during a violent confrontation outside the bar.
“We believe that the defendant essentially ambushed Mr. Felton and Mr. Tomocich with an intent to kill when he came upon them,” Deputy District Attorney Helen Kim said during a June 6 preliminary hearing in Vista Superior Court.
Osterwalder was released from custody the night after the stabbing on a $500,000 bond.
According to witnesses, the confrontation involving Osterwalder, Felton, and Tomicich began inside the bar after Tomocich accidentally spilled a drink on Osterwalder’s girlfriend. Osterwalder then reportedly initiated a physical altercation with Felton.
While bystanders were able to separate the two men and temporarily diffuse the situation, the confrontation flared up again outside after security asked both Felton and Osterwalder to leave the bar.
After both groups had left the bar, Kim alleges Osterwalder ran after Felton and Tomicich, stabbing both men repeatedly with a knife. Several bystanders were able to separate both parties again before Osterwalder was arrested by police arriving on the scene.
Felton reportedly suffered fourteen stab wounds to his neck, shoulder and midsection, and Tomicich had four stab wounds to his left arm and pectoral area. Both men have subsequently recovered from their injuries.
However, at the preliminary hearing, Osterwalder’s defense attorney, James Dicks, argued the defendant acted in self-defense, claiming Felton provoked the confrontation after he tried to kiss Osterwalder’s girlfriend inside the bar.
During cross-examination of a Sheriff’s detective, Felton and Tomicich, Dicks questioned the prosecution’s narrative that Osterwalder was the aggressor that night.
Once the brawl began outside the bar, the defense attorney noted witnesses agreed that Felton had placed Osterwalder in a carotid chokehold, which is meant to induce someone into losing consciousness and, in extreme cases, may lead to brain damage or even death. At this point, Dicks said that Osterwalder used his knife out of fear for his life.
“The only way he could have done it [stabbed Felton]…is that he’s stabbing while he’s being held in this blood chokehold,” Dicks said. “(Osterwalder) feels himself going out and he starts going to town. What I’m quite sure of is that this young man did not run-up to this guy and say, ‘Hey, in front of God and everybody, videos and everybody out here and all his friends, I’m going to ruin my life, kill this guy so I could spend the rest of my life in prison.
“And I think he gave a very honest rendition of what occurred when he was interviewed by the detective when he said, ‘Look, I just wanted him off of me. I didn’t know what I was hitting. I didn’t even know I got anybody. I wanted them off of me. I wanted them to stop. I was afraid I was going to get killed, my life was in danger, and that’s why I did it.’”
According to court transcripts, the prosecution disputed this version of events, arguing there was no evidence that Felton or his friends had harassed Osterwalder’s girlfriend while inside the bar and refuting the idea the defendant had only pulled his knife after being placed in a chokehold by Felton.
“The defendant cannot claim self-defense because his self-defense story is unreasonable,” Kim said. “When you stab someone in the back of the head unprovoked like he did, that’s an intent to kill.”
The prosecutor maintained that video evidence from outside the bar showed Felton utilizing the knife without provocation from the other group.
“As you could clearly see in the video, Mr. Felton does not have a good handle on the defendant,” Kim said. “The defendant is essentially going to town, stabbing Mr. Felton on his shoulders, on his side, he’s moving around, does not appear that he’s in any sort of danger, does not appear that he was unable to breathe or that his life was in danger, and in fact continued to fight and struggle with Mr. Felton until Mr. Felton stated, ‘Hey, I’m bleeding, he has a knife.’ And it then took three other individuals to restrain the defendant.”
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