It started with a man trying to move on a woman inside a Tower District bar and grill in Fresno.
Then the interaction turned violent.
Within minutes, 25-year-old Sarah Fisher fell to the floor, bleeding after getting a cocktail glass smashed into her face inside Score Sports Cafe & Lounge in July 2013. She later needed 29 stitches to close the gashes on her face and nine stitches in her chest.
Nearly four years later, Kelly Duley, 45, is on trial in Fresno County Superior Court, charged with felony assault and battery. If convicted, he could face 38 years to life in prison because he has prior felony convictions.
I was afraid. I thought he was coming at me. I had to defend myself.
On Thursday, in opening statements of the trial, defense attorney Glen Neal told the jury that Duley was defending himself against the 5-foot-10 inch, 225-pound Fisher. Duley is 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, court records say. Neal also said Fisher had been drinking that night while on medication for a bipolar disorder. The lawyer also told the jury that Fisher should have left the sports bar after she slapped Duley for grabbing her around the waist.
Neal said Duley doesn’t recall tangling with Fisher during the early hours of July 17, 2013. He told the jury that Duley plans to testify that Fisher hit him first with a beer bottle.
But on the witness stand, Fisher denied hitting Duley with a beer bottle. And no one else saw her holding one, said prosecutor Andrew Janz, who told the jury that Fisher tried to avoid Duley, but he attacked her anyway in front of bouncers and bar patrons.
Court records say Duley, who owns Duley’s Quality Painting in Fresno, has prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and negligent discharge of a firearm. He is free on $140,000 bail.
In November, he won the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital raffle and was awarded a five-bedroom, 4 1/2 -bathroom home off Sierra Avenue near Highway 168.
Both sides agree Fisher went to the Score sports bar with friends to drink and sing karaoke. (The establishment is no longer open.)
Just past midnight, she finished singing, “Hard to Handle,” by The Black Crowes. Fisher testified she then sent a text message to her boyfriend.
After sending the message, Fisher testified she went to the bar to pay her tab. She found an open spot at the bar next to Duley, whom she didn’t know personally but knew was a regular patron of the sports bar. Fisher testified that Duley immediately grabbed her around her waist and pulled her toward him. “You can pay your bar tab here,” Duley said, according to Fisher.
Fisher said she told Duley five or six times to let her go. When he didn’t, she slapped him.
“I slapped him to startle him, so he would remove his hands from me,” she told the jury of nine women and three men.
Why didn’t you leave? You were near the door.
Defense attorney Glen Neal, questioning victim Sarah Fisher
Fisher said she then went to the patio and told two bouncers what had happened. She wanted Duley thrown out of the bar, but the bouncers said they couldn’t since they hadn’t seen the incident at the bar. A short time later, Duley, who had a drink in his hand, walked by her and her friend.
Fisher testified that Duley mocked her, saying “Thank you for slapping me. I love being slapped.” She said he then called her a “whore – just like your mother.”
Fisher testified she cursed right back. She said a friend got between her and Duley.
She said Duley remained aggressive, moving toward her. She testified that when he lunged at her, she ducked down and then punched Duley with a right cross to his jaw. The blow bloodied his lip.
She testified Duley responded by throwing his drink in her face. The liquid also splashed on her friend’s back. She told the jury she was thinking, “Are you kidding me?” Then, suddenly, Duley hit her in the face with his cocktail glass, she said.
Shown photographs of her injuries, Fisher cried on the witness stand. Some of the glass shards embedded in her nose; other shards embedded in her chest, she told the jury.
Prosecutor Andrew Janz said the victim needed 29 stitches to close gashes on her face and nine stitches in her chest.
On cross examination, Neal asked Fisher if she was flirting with Duley. She said no.
“Why didn’t you leave? You were near the door,” Neal asked her. Fisher said she was waiting for friends to finish singing during karaoke. She also said it would be dangerous to walk around the Tower District alone at night.
Saying he didn’t want to offend her, Neal described Fisher as a “big, strong woman.” Fisher replied: “I’m a large woman.”
Fisher then defended her actions, saying, “I was afraid. I thought he was coming at me. I had to defend myself.”
Duley could testify Friday. But before he does, Janz told the jury that he plans to call a witness who was approached by Duley. According to Janz, Duley bribed the witness by offering him money to say “Sarah started the whole thing.”