LIHUE — The man accused in a North Shore fight pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault Tuesday, and maintains he was the one attacked that night.
Michael Beck, 28, of Moloaa is facing one count of first-degree assault and one count of second-degree assault —potentially 15 years in prison — in connection to a Sept. 16 fight in the parking lot of Tahiti Nui.
And while the fight left 21-year-old Miles Barsotti, Kilauea, with multiple stab wounds in the shoulder, legs, and ribs, Beck’s attorney says Beck was defending himself and his family.
“(It was a) racially motivated attack by Mr. Barsotti on my client and his wife,” said Myles Breiner, Beck’s attorney. “Barsotti attacked my client and his wife, and my client defended himself.”
He continued: “Barsotti is the one who should be charged with assault on my client and we intend to vigorously defend the case.”
Preliminary investigations by Kauai Police Department said Beck was attacked by multiple subjects shortly after 11:30 p.m.
“Police are still investigating what appears to be an act of self defense,” KPD representatives said in a Sept. 19 news release.
But, Nov. 9, the Fifth Circuit Grand Jury indicted Beck on both assault charges. He posted $10,000 bail on Nov. 16.
Since then, Breiner says Beck has been the subject of a relentless social media and online campaign, threatening his safety.
“They’re saying things like ‘he’s a haole from the Mainland that should be killed,’” Breiner said.
Facebook posts dating back to Sept. 16 point to chatter about vigilante justice, like one posted on Sept. 19 saying “people are already stating that they’re going to dish out their own justice …”
“He’s (Beck is) a dead man walking,” one post says.
Many social media comments voiced support for Barsotti and his family.
Barsotti’s family has defended him and said he did not start the altercation and they want, too, want to see justice in the case.
In the midst of all of it, some people on social media are reminding those involved in the conversation that most people don’t have all of the information on what happened that night.
“So sad. There are two sides (to) every story,” one comment reads. “I’ve seen brutal hatred from locals and haole folk. People have to learn to control their temper. Violence ruins everything.”
Beck was taken to the hospital the same night as Barsotti was admitted with injuries that witnesses say were inflicted after the knife fight and before emergency response arrived the night of the fight.
Beck was released that night and Barsotti went into surgery.
According to witnesses and Barsotti’s family, the Sept. 16 encounter began earlier that day when Barsotti and some friends were talking with Beck’s wife, whom they didn’t know, at a gas station.
They saw that same woman later that night at Tahiti Nui and witnesses say they think the interaction sparked the fight between Beck, Barsotti and four of Barsotti’s friends.
Beck’s jury trial is set for Feb. 5 at 8 a.m. with Judge Randal Valenciano, with a pre-trial on Jan. 11.