No bail warrant for arrest issued for guy who ducked verdict reading
A no bail warrant for the arrest of Amier Rocky Issa was issued Wednesday after he failed to show up for the reading of the guilty verdict against him in a 2008 incident in which he slashed his ex-boyfriend’s face in Hillcrest.
Issa, 33, of La Jolla, had been free on a $20,000 bond, but his whereabouts are now unknown. The jury’s verdict was read Wednesday in absentia and he was found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon and with inflicting great bodily injury to his former boyfriend, Michael Serrato, 29.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Joseph Brannigan waited several hours before having the verdict read in open court and discharging the eight woman, four man jury in a trial that began Sept. 28. The jury acquitted Issa of making a death threat against Serrato. His attorney, Stephen Cline, told the judge he did not know where his client was.
San Diego Police and the sheriff’s office were informed about the warrant and the prosecutor said they are actively looking for Issa, who had spent about three months in a state mental hospital before he was found mentally competent to stand trial on August 2.
Serrato, a Hillcrest waiter, testified last week that his face was slashed with a knife by Issa, who told a jury on Monday he may have accidently injured the victim by sharp objects he kept in his pocket.
The jury heard closing argument went into deliberations this week. Issa was found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, but found not guilty of making a death threat to Serrato in the July 11, 2008, incident in Hillcrest as Serrato was walking home from work.
Serrato testified Sept. 30 he had ended his 11-month relationship with Issa whom he said kept stalking him at work, phoning him repeatedly, along with some physical and verbal abuse.
“I loved him. I knew it was a battered relationship and I should get out of it,” he told jurors. “I really cared for him. It was hard to let go of him.”
Serrato said Issa showed up at his work that day, and he left without talking to him. Issa followed him in his car, and got out around 6:20 p.m. in the 1200 block of Essex Street. “I saw him reach into his pocket. It was a Swiss army knife. He uses it for work,” said Serrato, adding he has seen that knife before at Issa’s home.
“He’s swinging a knife at my face and says he’s going to kill me,” said Serrato. “I could feel the blood on my face and I saw it on my clothes. I turned around and started running as fast as I could. He ran after me with the knife.”
Serrato went to a hospital and received 20 stitches on his face and eight stitches on the inside of his mouth for the 5 1/2-inch slash that went along his cheek at ear level to his chin. Jurors and San Diego Superior Court Judge Joseph Brannigan looked at the blown up pictures of the bloody cut.
Issa told a much different story and said that it was Serrato who was physically abusive to him. Issa testified “I wasn’t interested in a relationship” with Serrato and that he was trying to break it off. Issa said Serrato “demanded” he show up at his restaurant that night only to discover that Serrato left work through the back entrance.
Issa testified he saw Serrato walking home and parked the car and got out. Issa said he “stood behind a tree and was gonna yell ‘Boo!’” which he said was “a running joke” between them. Serrato crossed the street, but then “he came after me,” said Issa.
“He pushed me and he hit me. I remember fearing for my life. I grabbed onto whatever was in my pocket,” said Issa, who added that he kept “small metal objects” including screwdrivers in his pocket.
“I don’t remember what I had in my hand. I didn’t strike him. I didn’t have a knife,” insisted Issa. “My eyes were closed. I wasn’t sure what had happened.”
On cross examination by Deputy District Attorney Michelle Ialeggio, Issa said this: “I didn’t slash Mr. Serrato’s face. He got injured when he attacked me...I didn’t see any blood. I believe Mr. Serrato is a liar and exaggerates things to make him a victim. I believe he caused the injury.”
The prosecutor held Issa’s phone records and asked Issa to explain why he had called Serrato 63 times in the week before the incident. Issa said his cell phone kept dropping his calls and he had to frequently call him back.