Judge finds probable cause in case against actor charged in Port bar stabbing
Dustin Diamond’s lawyer made an issue Monday of the fact police know of no one who saw the actor known for his role as Screech in the 1990s TV show “Saved by the Bell” stab a 24-year-old man during a Christmas night bar fight at Grand Avenue Saloon in Port Washington, but Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Paul Malloy wasn’t buying it.
Malloy ruled during a preliminary hearing that there is probable cause to support the criminal charges against Diamond, 37, of Port Washington— one felony count of second-degree recklessly endangering safety and misdemeanor counts of carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct-use of a dangerous weapon. The judge ordered Diamond to stand trial.
“Is there a single witness, a single piece of video, a single photo showing (Diamond) lunging out, touching anyone with a weapon?” Diamond’s attorney, Thomas Alberti, asked Port Washington police officer Ryan Hurda, who investigated the bar fight.
“No. Nothing definitive,” Hurda testified.
But Malloy put the pieces together.
A bartender saw Diamond with a knife and, in fact, Diamond admitted to police that he had a knife and brandished it at the bar.
In addition, Diamond was seen scuffling with Port Washington resident Casey Smet, who suffered a knife wound to the right side of his chest near his armpit, Hurda said.
“It didn’t happen by itself,” Malloy said.
Hurda, who was called to the bar around 11:15 p.m., testified that by the time he arrived Diamond, his 27-year-old fiance Amanda Schutz and Smet were gone.
He said bartender Mark Mueller told him he saw Diamond holding a knife and told him to put it down. Diamond refused and eventually left the bar with Schutz.
Security video from the tavern shows Schutz get up from the bar where she and Diamond were seated, walk over to a group of people and confront a woman, Hurda said.
Schutz, who was apparently upset that the woman was taking photos of her and Diamond, told police she shoved the woman, who retaliated by punching her, and a scuffle ensued, according to the criminal complaint.
When Diamond attempted to intervene, he was pushed “forcefully” by Smet, Hurda said.
Smet’s brother Craig said he pulled his brother away from Diamond when he heard the “snap of a knife,” Hurda said.
“The fight is pretty much over by that point,” the officer testified. “That’s when Mark Mueller observes the knife in Dustin Diamond’s hand.”
Smet said he was attempting to apologize to Diamond for an earlier confrontation between his girlfriend and Schutz when Diamond came toward him. Smet said he pushed Diamond, then his brother pulled him away, Hurda said.
Smet said Diamond swung at him but he didn’t realize Diamond had a knife or that he had been stabbed until later. Smet was eventually treated by members of an ambulance crew at his house.
“There was a fair amount of blood on his (Smet’s) sweater and white T-shirt,” Hurda said.
Diamond told police that he brandished his knife “to deter the individuals who he believed were endangering this fiance, Amanda Schutz,” and when he was pushed by Smet, he made a “swooping movement with his arm,” Hurda said.
According to the criminal complaint, Diamond said he did not intentionally stab Smet but chaos broke out, people were grabbing him and he swung his arms to break free.
During his cross examination of Hurda, who was the only witness to testify during the preliminary hearing, Alberti took issue with the initial description of Diamond’s knife as a switchblade.
Hurda said it was not a switchblade but rather a folding knife “opened by a slight push of the blade.”
After binding Diamond over for trial, Malloy disclosed that a witness in the case, Mueller, is the brother-in-law of Ozaukee County Clerk of Courts Mary Lou Mueller and the ex-husband of Deputy Clerk of Courts Connie Mueller. But, the judge said, that does not constitute a conflict of interest for him and he does not intend to recuse himself from the case.
Alberti agreed, but said he would discuss the matter with his client.
If convicted of the felony endangering charge, Diamond could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison and five years of extended supervision. He is free on $10,000 bail.
Diamond is expected to enter a plea to the charges on Thursday, Jan. 22.
Schutz is charged with one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct in connection with the bar fight and is scheduled to make her initial court appearance on Wednesday, Jan. 14.