Torch Lighter, Fire Extinguisher Attack Leads to Charges – But Judge Rules Accused ‘Incompetent’

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By Kathryn Wood

SACRAMENTO – Defendant Kyle Blair was called into Sacramento Superior Court Tuesday morning for a probable cause hearing for two separate charges, including an attack involving a torch lighter and fire extinguisher, and an attempted robbery.

The court ultimately ruled Blair should stand trial on multiple counts, but found him “incompetent” and ordered him admitted to a state hospital.

According to the prosecution, on Sept. 25 last year, an employee at Kay Bee Liquors in Sacramento reported that Blair entered the store, went to a cooler where he grabbed a can of Red Bull, brought it back to the counter and proceeded to open and sip it.

The employee noted that Blair also attempted to reach over to take money out of a donation box.

The employee informed Blair that he could not sip the drink until he bought it. In response, Blair reached toward his back pocket and revealed a knife. Following this, the employee went to get a bat behind the counter.

The employee reported that Blair walked out of the store shortly after, and as the employee attempted to call the police, Blair allegedly reentered the store and threw a “four-inch steak knife” at him but missed.

After the defendant exited the store again, he reentered once more and came behind the counter to throw another steak knife at the employee, which ricocheted off the employee’s bracelet, said the employee, who said he watched as Blair, on the way out, grabbed a bottle of liquor and started to drink it outside, then walked away.

Officer Bret Uecker indicated that, upon arrival, he examined “one knife behind the counter and one knife lodged into the south side of the building.”

Assistant Public Defender Brooks Parfitt noted that Blair did not take money from the donation box and the first and second time he entered and exited the store, he did not take anything with him, and argued the employee “did not mention he was fearful of the subject.”

In response, Deputy District Attorney Alex Sanders stated that the store “did not receive payments for any of the items” and argued that the employee “grabbed the bat” after being shown the knife, which expressed his fear and need to defend himself.

Detective Paul Pfeifer led a follow up investigation, noting he matched prints on the Red Bull can with the defendant, Kyle Blair, and saw the defendant had been taken into custody for a different case. Pfeifer proceeded to search the inventory jail property, where he found Blair’s shoes that he wore the night of the incident.

PD Parfitt added that steak knives have “thin blades” and are “not inherently weapons.” In order for them to be defined as such, he argued that they “had to produce great bodily injury,” which they did not.

In response, DDA Sanders claimed that the defendant drank the Red Bull and took a bottle of liquor and exited the store, which resulted in “no payment.”

Sanders added that the throwing of the knife was an “element of force…Steak knife or not… that is a weapon… I would not like anything being thrown at me,” she responded.

Judge Steve White noted that the partially consumed beverage is “not the object of robbery attempt.” He also stated that there was “no evidence that he took the money.”

Although the victim did not suffer any injuries, the assault weapon did hit the employee and Judge White concluded that the prosecution “presented sufficient evidence to show that the offense within the complaint had been committed” and that there was “sufficient cause to believe that Blair is guilty.”

Judge White ordered Blair to be held to answer at trial on that charge.

Officer Nigel Pell testified on a second charge against Blair, stating he was called to the scene because the individual had “assaulted someone.”

After arriving, he described that the alleged victim had “white and green fine powder” on his face and his body.

The victim was down the road from the DoubleTree Hotel, when Blair originally said “hi” to the victim. He stated the victim explained that Blair “attacked him with a torch lighter” and that he “was stabbed in his arm.”

When Pell observed the surveillance footage, he explained that Blair followed the victim into the lobby. The victim attempted to “slow him down with a luggage cart” and proceeded to hide.

Blair discharged a fire extinguisher twice for two to three seconds on the victim’s face and body.

According to the victim, he “went into the lobby of the hotel…a nozzle was launched into his throat… then the extinguisher was discharged.”

The officer mentioned that the victim “inhaled the substance within the fire extinguisher” and believed the victim said it “caused him to choke.”

In the moment, the officer mentioned that the victim stated that he breathed “out of panic.”

PD Parfitt added that after the fire department responded to this incident, they stated that the reported bruise on the victim’s arm could have been an “old bruise” and not a result of being recently stabbed by the torch lighter.

Furthermore, Parfitt said the fire department did not advise Pell “what the contents of the fire extinguisher were” or “advise whether the contents of the fire extinguisher were caustic… vitriolic… or flammable.” And the fire department did not “explain the mechanism through which being exposed to the chemicals could cause great bodily injury.”

Officer Mitchell Barrett claimed that after detaining Blair, the defendant “stomped on his right foot” and “spit at him.”

Judge Steve White ordered the court will “hold Blair to answer for the offense charged,” since there is “sufficient cause to believe he’s guilty thereof of that offense.”

He mentioned that the court “found Blair to be incompetent” and “if Blair is returned to competency, he is entitled to a preliminary hearing.”

Parfitt requested that he “be admitted today” to a state hospital.

Judge White agreed to Parfitt’s request, stating that he would “commit him to the Department of State Hospitals to take steps to restore him to competency.”

Kathryn Wood is a third year at UC Davis, majoring in Political Science-Public Service and minoring in Professional Writing and Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning. She is from Petaluma, California.


 

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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