Local sportscaster testifies in court against attacker

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Local sportscaster Kyle Kraska has testified that an East County house painter he hired quit the project but several months later returned and shot him six times just as Kraska was about to drive to work at KFMB-TV (Channel 8).

Kraska testified for about six hours on July 12-13 in the attempted murder trial of Mike Montana, 55, of El Cajon, who is also accused of making death threats to the manager of the San Diego Rowing Club and to a worker at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Local sportscaster Kyle Kraska has testified that an East County house painter he hired quit the project but several months later returned and shot him six times just as Kraska was about to drive to work at KFMB-TV (Channel 8).

Kraska testified for about six hours on July 12-13 in the attempted murder trial of Mike Montana, 55, of El Cajon, who is also accused of making death threats to the manager of the San Diego Rowing Club and to a worker at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“You should have paid me my $2,200,” Montana was quoted as telling Kraska before he began shooting at Kraska’s Mercedes on Feb. 10, 2015, at his Scripps Ranch home.

“He had a very stern look on his face…the look on his face—he was doing something incredibly deliberate,” said Kraska.

Kraska told the eight men; four-woman jury and San Diego Superior Court Judge Michael Smyth that Montana blocked his vehicle with his white van labeled Superior Painting at 3 p.m. “He had me boxed in. I had nowhere to go,” he said.

Kraska testified he paid $800 up front and he agreed to pay $2,200 more when the 2-week job was finished in a written contract between him and Montana. He said Montana kept asking him for more money and finally quit, saying he was broke and needed to get another painting job elsewhere.

Kraska said he was surprised when Montana started to work and did not have enough equipment or drop cloths. He said the grass died in his backyard where Montana had left some equipment. He said Montana often did not show up for work. He said Montana quit after completing about 25% of the project.

The 17-year veteran sportscaster said he heard nothing from Montana for about three months and then discovered a money demand letter from him on his front door that told him to mail a check to a post office box in Lakeside. He received a threatening phone call after that.

Kraska testified he was told he died twice on the operating table at Scripps La Jolla Hospital and was in a coma for six days after the shooting. “My liver was badly damaged by a bullet,” he said.

Montana’s attorney, Richard Jayakumar, told jurors that his client fired shots at Kraska’s 2003 Mercedes XL to inflict $2,200 damages to reflect his losses, but did not intend to shoot or kill the sportscaster.

Jayakumar asked Kraska if the vehicle was “a beautiful car,” and Kraska replied, “It used to be.” 

Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Zipp told jurors Montana was
“calm, cool, and collected” as he blocked Kraska from leaving his driveway and began shooting his car. A bullet went through Kraska’s cellphone.

Montana has pleaded not guilty. If he’s convicted of all counts, he faces a prison term of 38 years to life. He remains in jail on $750,000 bail.

Two young men sentenced in murder of homeless man in Santee

Two East County residents were sentenced July 15 to 12-13 years in prison for the 2014 murder of a homeless man in Santee.

The terms handed down to Tyler Scott Dare, 20, and Danny Swan, 20, are the longest so far for the death of Stephen Lee Hissom, 55, who was beaten to death in November 2014. Two others, Brian Mitchell Kish, 20, and Sarah Baillie, 19, will be sentenced July 25.

Dare received 13 years and eight months in prison from El Cajon Superior Court Judge Herbert Exarhos while Swan got 12 years. Deputy District Attorney George Modlin said Dare received more time for assaulting a sheriff’s deputy while in jail when he kicked him in the face.

Dare, Swan, and Baillie pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and a murder charge was dropped. Kish pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon. Cassidy Rowin, 19, was sentenced Jan. 20 to three years in prison after she pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Exarhos ordered Dare, Swan, and Rowin to share in paying $5,000 to the victim’s compensation board for Hissom’s funeral. Dare and Swan were fined $3,894 and were given credits of already serving 683 days in jail.

Two of Hissom’s sisters were in the audience. One made a statement to Exarhos and the prosecutor read aloud a letter from the other sister.