The trial of David Paul Lane opened Monday with testimony from two of the Olive Garden’s employees who said he brandished a pistol after telling the manager he was upset about his food.
Restaurant Manager April Vlach testified that, when Lane said he wanted to go back into the kitchen, “he pulled a gun and pointed it at me.”
Asked by Assistant DA Mark Krueger how that made her feel, she said, “like he was going to shoot me.”
Her testimony was echoed by Mitchell Parra, who was host at the restaurant the night of July 21, 2013. He said after he called Vlach to talk with Lane and she told him he couldn’t go to the kitchen, he “sort of lunged” toward Vlach and it was then that he saw the black Glock pistol in Lane’s hands.
Both testified that Lane didn’t have the weapon in his hands earlier, meaning that it must have been beneath his clothing — the basis for the concealed weapon charge.
The trial started after District Judge James Wilson denied the batch of last minute motions aimed at delaying the trial. Lane faces four counts of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly threatening to kill people at the restaurant and one of carrying a concealed weapon.
Public Defender Scott Walker asked the jury to keep an open mind until all the evidence is before them saying resist giving in to the emotions of witnesses.
“Reserve judgment until you’ve heard everything,” Walker said. “We believe the case was overcharged.”
The defense has maintained through several earlier hearings that Lane wasn’t intending to kill anyone and that a lower level charge would be more appropriate.
Walker said if they pay close attention, they will find, “that not all these crimes occurred.”
Krueger, however, told the panel Lane put the automatic pistol alongside Chef Daniel Cewinski’s head, cocked it and asked him “do you want to get shot?”
When he cocked the weapon, it ejected a bullet. That bullet, Krueger said, has been positively identified as coming from that weapon by the unique marks it left on the case.
He called for guilty verdicts saying Lane pointed the pistol and threatened at least four people in the restaurant.
Those counts are punishable by up to six years each.
Lane is still in the Northern Nevada Correctional Center serving the sentence he received for resisting arrest in Douglas County the night of the incident.
He was caught after an alert restaurant employee memorized his license plate as he fled the restaurant and called sheriffs to report it.
Vlach will return to the stand this afternoon for cross examination by the defense.