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Walter Mencken 2 p.m., May 28
Juan Rivas, 29, was sentenced to 30 days custody after a jury declared him guilty of misdemeanor battery for punching an employee after the company Christmas party.
The fight occurred the early hours of a Sunday morning, after a Saturday night Posada for employees of Alberto’s Mexican Restaurants. Everybody said they were drinking beers, but no one admitted being that drunk, in December 2011.
Juan Rivas was a manager and cook for a 24-hour taco shop on Rose Street in Escondido, California. After the party, the boss went to a home in the same community to pick up one worker who had failed to show up for her overnight shift. The small home on North Elm Street was shared by many employees of the same fast-food-chain in San Diego County.
According to testimony at trial this month, the boss punched one man in the face who announced he was not going to work anymore. Then other employees joined the fracas.
Juan Rivas took the witness box to explain why he reached for the folding knife he kept clipped to his belt. Two employees suffered non-life-threatening knife wounds and received treatment at hospital, according to evidence presented at trial.
Juan Rivas, then 27, was charged with two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He paid $8,000 to a bond company to post $100,000 bail and was at liberty until sentencing yesterday, June 28, 2013.
Private defense attorney Natalie Galashty put up a vigorous defense, suggesting that Rivas was shoved to the ground and attacked by five men who took turns punching and kicking him. The accused man pleaded both self-defense and mutual combat.
After a one-week trial, the jury found Rivas guilty of one misdemeanor count of battery for punching one employee in the face, but the jury deadlocked on the two felony assault charges.
Honorable Judge Richard E. Mills, who also heard the trial, sentenced Rivas to 30 days custody in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse yesterday, June 28, 2013.