A Clovis man accused of starting a fight in a popular Fig Garden Village restaurant and bar that left another man in a coma will stand trial, a judge ruled on Thursday.
Judge Houry Sanderson made the decision after cutting short defense attorney Michael Idiart's long list of afternoon witnesses from about eight to only one.
Sanderson and prosecutor Richard Burchett Jr. questioned the need to hear from all the witnesses if they were only going to corroborate each other's stories.
The preliminary hearing determines whether there is enough evidence to send someone trial.
"In this instance, we have an assault that was not just a push or poke," Sanderson said. Someone "was slammed to the ground. There were three different ways it was described. All descriptions were that his feet came off from the ground and he was slammed to the ground causing harm."
There is probable cause to find the suspect, Agaron Davoyan, engaging in this behavior, Sanderson said.
An arraignment date was set for Oct. 6.
Idiart wanted to establish at the hearing that Davoyan was involved in "mutual combat" or was defending himself in a fight with Nick Burriel Jr. on Nov. 16 at the Elbow Room.
"We're disappointed that we couldn't put all our witnesses on," Idiart said outside the courtroom.
Davoyan, 24, of Clovis faces charges that include felony assault and battery causing great bodily injury.
Both sides have different accounts of what happened, but police reports say that the two men, who had bad blood between them, were involved in a scuffle that started inside the restaurant.
Security guards escorted both men outside using different exits. Then a second fight erupted in the parking lot, with Davoyan slamming or hitting Burriel to the ground causing his head and the back of his neck to hit the concrete.
The impact left Burriel unresponsive with injuries to his lungs, heart and brain.
Fresno attorney Douglas Gordon, who has filed a civil lawsuit against the Elbow Room on behalf of Burriel, said Thursday that Burriel "has made good progress, but he still has a ways to go."
Gordon said Burriel, who was hospitalized two months after the fight, lives with his parents in Clovis because he needs 24-hour supervision. "He can't take care of himself," Gordon said. "He has difficulties doing simple daily activities like putting on clothes."