By Roxanna Jarvis
WOODLAND – A road rage incident took a violent turn when one man pulled a knife on the other, and the altercation ended with a slashed tire, broken windows, and an arrest. One man was held to answer here in Yolo County Superior Court, with the judge ultimately deciding to reduce one charge and release him on his own recognizance.
Kristopher Ellasces, the defendant, was accused of vandalism and assault likely to produce great bodily injury after he allegedly smashed the windows of a man’s vehicle while pointing a knife at him in Woodland on October 9.
The alleged victim in this incident was on his way home from Nugget Market when he drove past a skateboarder on his right-hand side, next to the parked cars on the street. The skateboarder was Ellasces, riding in the opposite direction toward the alleged victim.
According to the alleged victim’s testimony, Ellasces yelled, “M***** F*****” at him a few moments after they passed. The victim then looked in his rear view mirror and began to slow down, attempting to put his foot on the brake.
“I have relatively large feet, so I hit the gas and the brake all at once, and when I put it into park, I hit reverse a little bit, and the car jumped back….about four or five feet before I was able to get my foot off the gas and into park all the way,” he said.
The man then looked at his back window and noticed Ellasces had his skateboard over his head, about to throw it. “I was getting into park [and] I heard a crash from my rear window. So, I took off my seat belt, opened the door, and got out of my car,” the victim admitted.
The victim headed toward the back to confront Ellasces, screaming, “You’re going to pay for this.” The victim then noticed the knife in Ellasces’ hand.
The victim then told the court that Ellasces replied, “No, you’re going to pay for this” and “lurched” at him with a knife. The victim described the knife as a folding knife, approximately 6-8 inches altogether.
“I backed away and screamed, ‘Knife!” explained the victim. “I ran around the side of my car going from the driver’s side and he followed me.”
The victim said that Ellasces stopped, stared at the left rear tire of his car, and stabbed it twice. After telling Ellasces to stop and that he was going to jail, Ellasces began to laugh at the victim saying, “I’m already on probation. I don’t care.”
Ellasces then began to come toward the victim and started punching the passenger side window. The altercation prompted neighbors to come out of their homes to see what the commotion was over. One of them called 911.
The victim moved to the back of his car as Ellasces picked up his skateboard and smashed it into both sides of the front windshield. The total damages to the victim’s vehicle came out to be around $873.
The victim stated that the closest the two ever got to one another was about three feet, noting, “I backed up and ran pretty good.”
When asked by Deputy Public Defender Emily Fisher if Ellasces ever physically touched him, the victim denied. “No, I kept a distance….he just [pointed] it at me a couple times.”
By the time officers arrived, Ellasces had already left the scene. But it didn’t take long for authorities to find him nearby.
Officer Richard Wright responded to the area of Sierra and Abele St., where a second officer, Sergeant Dallas Hyde, was speaking to Ellasces. “[Hyde] was talking to an individual who was walking away from him,” said Wright.
According to Wright, Hyde said over the radio that Ellasces was threatening to cut himself with the knife. But, after more officers arrived at the scene, Ellasces was able to be put in handcuffs without any more altercations.
When telling his version of events, Ellasces said the alleged victim seemed to be looking down at something before inadvertently swerving and nearly hitting him.
When the victim got out of the car, Ellasces told Officer Wright that he only took out the knife to show the victim, in self-defense.
“[Ellasces] stated that [the victim] pushed him and swung his fists at him and he did not want to fight an elderly male. So, he pulled out his knife in self-defense and then backed away,” said the officer.
Yet, Officer Wright stated that Ellasces made contradictory statements about what occurred before then.
“First, he stated that [the victim] got out of the car and had a verbal confrontation with him and then pushed him and swung at him. Then Ellasces said that he punched the rear window with his fist,” explained Wright. Ellasces’ second statement to Wright was that he punched the rear window of the vehicle while it was still backing up.
Wright stated that Ellasces’ statement was “difficult to keep on track” due to his “changing the subject and not answering questions directly the first time.”
When deciding whether to hold Ellasces to answer for the incident, Judge Stephen Mock had a question for Deputy District Attorney David Wilson about why one of Ellasces’ charges was assault instead of Penal Code section 417, brandishing a deadly weapon in a rude, angry, or threatening manner.
“According to the victim’s statement, he came at him several times, the victim continually had to move [back]…the victim’s in fear for his safety. They basically go all around the car, with [the victim] trying to avoid the knife,” Wilson explained. Wilson ended by saying that the only reason why Ellasces did not hurt the victim was that the victim kept backing away.
Countering Wilson, DPD Fisher noted that what occurred was the “nature” of road rage incidents. “Both people are mad, which is always what happens….What I’m trying to say is that the degree of [anger] and being upset never seems to match what really is going on.”
Fisher added that while the vandalism is a different story, the response Ellasces had was understandable. “[The victim] was upset and getting out [of his car]…saying ‘you’re going to pay for this’ and [gets out] of the car to go to Mr. Ellasces and [Ellasces] knows he did something wrong—anybody in that position could think ‘Oh no, we’re about to get in a fight,” continued Fisher.
“I imagine it happens more with men than women, I don’t know. But at that point, it makes sense for Mr. Ellasces [to show him the knife].”
Fisher asked for Ellasces to be charged with vandalism and brandishing, and not vandalism and assault.
Overall, Judge Mock found sufficient evidence to hold Ellasces to answer for both the vandalism and assault charges.
“I recognize that we’re talking about less than $900 in damage. So frankly, my inclination would be to reduce Count one (vandalism) to a misdemeanor…but keep Count 2 (assault) as a felony, at least for the time being,” the judge said.
With regard to Ellasces’ custody status, Mock released him on his own recognizance (supervised), because he hasn’t had any convictions since 2013 and this incident was “situational.”
“There’s nothing that we heard that would suggest that either [the victim] or the defendant had ever interacted with one another before. So, I find that those two factors are a basis for the release of the defendant on supervised OR,” said Mock.
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