THOUSAND OAKS : Self-Defense Claim Rejected in Stabbing


A judge rejected a Thousand Oaks High School student’s claim of self-defense and convicted him Tuesday of assault for stabbing a classmate in the neck during an on-campus fight earlier this year.

After a daylong trial, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles W. Campbell Jr. ruled that the 17-year-old used excessive force in defending himself during a May 4 fight with 18-year-old Rick Coletta.

Because of his age, the youth was not identified.

The teen-ager stabbed Coletta in the neck with a small knife after the two engaged in a staring contest students call “mad dogging.” Witnesses said Coletta threw the first punch, but Campbell ruled the stabbing to be excessive. Coletta was not seriously injured.


Three of Coletta’s friends kicked and beat the 17-year-old after the stabbing and were cited by police. But the Ventura County district attorney’s office declined to file charges against the three, citing a lack of evidence.

The 17-year-old student was also convicted of carrying a weapon on campus.

The teen-ager faces a minimum sentence of probation and a maximum sentence of four years and eight months in the California Youth Authority. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 17.