Stamford jury selection begins in Norwalk bat assault case
STAMFORD — Jury selection began at the Stamford courthouse for a Norwalk man accused of causing serious physical injury to a Stamford man by beating him over the head with an aluminum baseball bat following a political argument at a steak house.
Romi Leska, 41, of Fairfield Avenue, is facing a felony charge of first-degree assault that is punishable by up to 20 years in prison if found guilty or a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.
While questioning a potential juror during the Tuesday morning session in a fourth-floor courtroom, Leska’s attorney Eugene Riccio said the case will involve a claim of self defense. He asked the woman if she saw any problem with that. The woman said she didn’t and minutes later in front of Judge Gary White she was chosen by Riccio and Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Valdes as the first juror to sit on the six-person panel.
Testimony in the case is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, May 28 and be over by the end of the week.
The charge against Leska came early in the morning of Sept. 22, 2011 after a disturbance was called in to Norwalk police from Blackstone Steak House on Main Street in that city. Witnesses told police that two men got into a political argument after hours at the steak house. The two men were told to leave and soon after a witness told police that he saw one hitting the other man over the head with a bat.
By the time police got to the scene, the man involved with the assault had already left and medics were called to help the victim. Police quickly got a description of Tan Ford Expedition the suspect was driving and it was pulled over on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard with Leska, then 33, behind the wheel.
In Leska’s vehicle, police spotted an aluminum Louisville Slugger bat called “Big Louie” in the back seat.
Leska told police it was the other man who came at him with the bat and he just defended himself. He said after the man used the bat to knock off one of his side mirrors, he was able to get the weapon out of the man’s hands and drove off.
“I did not beat him with the baseball bat, only hands,” Leska said in a statement to police. “He beat me with the baseball bat in the head. I left to go home and the cops stopped me,” he said at the end of his statement.
Valdes declined comment on the case.