Local News

Tuesday, Jan 07 2014 07:08 PM

Muralist sentenced to three years for stabbing in downtown bar

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Antonio Saldana, left, and his attorney, Janice Kim, listen as Lorne Shankle, whom Saldana attacked, speaks during Saldana's sentencing Tuesday morning.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Lorne Shankle speaks of an attack by Antonio Saldana before Saldana is sentenced Tuesday morning. Antonio Saldana was sentenced for attacking Shankle with a window scraper at Guthrie's Alley Cat bar in downtown Bakersfield.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

The three-year prison sentence handed down Tuesday to a muralist accused of attacking a man last year with a window scraper rankled a few people.

Lorne Shankle, for one. He was on the receiving end of Antonio Saldana's July 2 assault at Guthrie's Alley Cat downtown bar, suffering head and neck injuries and undergoing emergency surgery. He spent five days in intensive care.

Kenny Reed, for another. The owner of the Alley Cat said Tuesday it took an hour to clean up Shankle's blood, which was splattered across a 20-foot area. More than that, Reed said, security cameras captured the attack and numerous patrons witnessed it. The case, he said, was a "slam dunk" for the prosecution.

Saldana, 46, had pleaded no contest in November to assault with a deadly weapon other than a gun and prosecutors dismissed charges of attempted murder and destruction of evidence.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Norris said the plea deal was offered, in part, because Saldana's level of intoxication would have made it impossible to prove he had the "requisite intent" required for attempted murder.

Norris said she also examined Saldana's criminal record, which includes a few misdemeanors; his last conviction was in 2009 for drunk and disorderly conduct. She said she had to consider where Saldana fell in the spectrum of defendants in considering his prior record and the seriousness of the attack on Shankle.

While Norris understands some people aren't happy, Saldana will be imprisoned for more than two years and must serve 85 percent of his sentence.

Still, Shankle said. Saldana waited until his back was turned before attacking him. And Shankle said it wasn't the first time Saldana, a muralist who's completed numerous works in the downtown area, had ambushed him.

"I don't need a crazy person cutting my throat all the time," Shankle said.

Police said that on July 2, Saldana and Shankle had been in a fight earlier in the breezeway just west of the bar area. Saldana was kicked out while Shankle was allowed to stay.

About 10 minutes later, Saldana entered the bar and approached Shankle while he was using an ATM and had his back turned. Police said Saldana assaulted Shankle with a window scraper, hitting him a half dozen times, and knocking him to the ground.

Saldana was again thrown out of the business. He drove to his home in the 1500 block of Glenwood Drive.

Police said Saldana's wife arrived home to find her husband wearing only a towel and throwing items in their pool. He'd placed the shorts he'd been wearing in a sink with bleach and water.

Police soon arrived.

Saldana told police he'd been drinking at Jerry's Pizza that afternoon before leaving to get a tattoo. He then continued drinking at the Alley Cat. He said he didn't remember a fight, and said people accused him of committing the attack because everyone at the Alley Cat is "white and racist" and he's Mexican.

Reed said that's absurd. He said three of his four bartenders are Mexican, and so is his daughter's husband.

Saldana painted the mural in Alley Cat's breezeway, and had done touch-up work on a mural by the pool tables. But he's no longer welcome there.

Reed said he considers Saldana a threat and will take action if he ever enters his establishment again.

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