Accused Lytton Plaza stabber makes $100,000 bail

Tofia Kavapalu Jr. claims self defense in early-morning altercation

A 28-year-old East Palo Alto man accused of a stabbing at Lytton Plaza last April posted $100,000 bail on July 9, according to court records.

Tofia Kuoulu Kavapalu accused of assault with a deadly weapon and an allegation of using a knife, a felony, and a misdemeanor battery charge. If convicted, he could not receive probation except in an unusual case or in the interest of justice, according to court documents.

Kavapalu, a former Rudy's Pub bouncer, pleaded not guilty in June to allegedly stabbing Kyle Hobbs outside the Pizza My Heart restaurant on University Avenue on April 3 at about 2:20 a.m. after Hobbs came to the aid of his girlfriend, Ashleigh Lane.

Lane, Hobbs and another friend, Elvis Renderos, had been bar hopping at the Old Pro, Nola's and Scotty's Bar and had stopped at Pizza My Heart. They were preparing to leave and Lane told police she was trying to get Renderos to go to their vehicle. She said he was highly intoxicated and she was concerned about him.

Lane told police that a Tongan man approached Renderos and began screaming in his face, accusing Renderos of staring at him. Lane said she interfered and tried to separate the two and was slapped twice in the face and then punched in the nose by Kavapalu, who is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 220 pounds, according to a police report. She called out to Hobbs for help, who was standing in Lytton Plaza nearby.

Hobbs told police he did not know about the altercation and came toward the group because he thought Lane was summoning him to leave. As he approached, he saw Kavapalu punch Lane in the face. Hobbs said he pushed Lane to the left and felt Kavapalu hit him in the upper right chest. He did not realize he had been stabbed.

Kavapalu allegedly dropped a 5-inch knife with a pearl handle and ran away. As Hobbs spoke to police who quickly approached the scene after observing the after-bar crowd at the plaza, he said he felt sweaty under his shirt and felt pain where he had been hit. He only realized he had been stabbed after pulling up his shirt, he said.

Hobbs sustained a collapsed right lung and was treated at Stanford Hospital for three days, according to court records. Lane bled profusely from her nose according to police. She sustained a swollen and lacerated nose and two black eyes.

Kavapalu was later arrested in the Mountain View police station after he arrived there to pick up his girlfriend, who had been arrested for drunk driving. A Mountain View officer recognized that he was wanted by Palo Alto police, according to the police report.

He confessed to the stabbing but claimed that Lane and Renderos started the argument and fight.

He had also been drinking, he said.

Kavapalu said Lane and Renderos were intoxicated and belligerent and started shouting swear words in reference to Redwood City and Palo Alto. He thought they were "gang banging."

He said he swore back. Renderos approached him and tried to punch him. He deflected the punch and hit Renderos, who fell to the ground, he said.

He claimed that Lane started trying to hit him and he told her to step back, but she kept yelling slurs at him.

He said that he stabbed Hobbs in self-defense, believing he was about to be approached by a gang and beaten after hearing Lane call out to other people. Hobbs tried to punch him, he said, and Kavapalu then stabbed him. He said Lane kept coming after him and he struck her once with an open hand.

Kavapalu pleaded not guilty in Santa Clara County Superior Court in June and will return to court for a preliminary hearing July 28.

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