Man Gets 20 Years in Prison for Pacific Beach Bar FightApril 24, 2009 No Comments
A parolee who was months out of prison when he stabbed a bar patron 17 times during an alcohol-fueled fight outside the Pacific Beach establishment was sentenced Friday to 20 years in state prison.
Matthew Thornton, 27, was convicted March 24 of attempted murder in the March 9, 2007, stabbing of Clifford Riek.
A jury also convicted the defendant of assault with a deadly weapon and battery.
Before sentencing, Judge Kerry Wells denied a defense motion to strike Thornton’s 2004 robbery conviction, in which he stole a hat while displaying an air pistol that looked like a real gun.
In a separate incident, Thornton was charged with holding a gun on a group of people during a fight at a house party, but he was acquitted of those charges.
Wells said Thornton’s co-defendant in that case declined to speak to probation officers when asked to comment on Thornton.
“He (the co-defendant) said, `If I tell you about him, he’ll kill me. He’ll shoot me in the head,”‘ the judge recounted.
“It makes me think Mr. Thornton is a very violent person,” Wells said.
Riek, who was stabbed in the face, neck, back and legs and spent several days in a hospital, told the judge he has learned a lot from incident outside Bub’s Bar.
“I truly believe that what was done could have been avoided,” the victim said. “I forgive him (Thornton) for the decision he made.”
Defense attorney Brian Funk said Thornton did not intend to kill Riek, whom he said was the instigator in the fight that involved at least six people.
Thornton, who was recently married, said he was happy to hear that Riek forgives him.
“He did not deserve one of those stab wounds he received that night,” the defendant told the judge.
Thornton said he did not inflict all 17 stab wounds on the victim, but added, “There’s no excuse for the violence. I have a decent heart, I know that.”
Wells told Thornton he was an intelligent and articulate man who had done some very bad things.
“You’ve got some serious conduct in your past that shows a serious violent streak,” the judge told the defendant.
At an earlier hearing, witness John Byrd testified he saw Riek approach a group of four men inside the bar. Several minutes later, Riek and a friend were escorted out of the tavern and Byrd saw Riek gesturing for the group of four to come outside.
The four did so, and Riek’s friend got knocked out instantly, Byrd said. The witness said Riek got stabbed when he went down on his hands and knees.
With the help of a police helicopter crew, officers took Thornton and friend Patrick Barreiro into custody at the scene.
Barreiro pleaded no contest to an assault charge in July 2007.
Source: Channel 6 CWAssault, Bars and Restaurants, Crime and Safety