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Alleged assault victim describes scene at his parents' home

He testified one of the accused kicked down the door and hit him
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The Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse is pictured in this file photo

Ryan Gridzak described to jurors Wednesday what happened when two men he said he didn't know forced their way into his home in the early morning hours of March 15, 2014.

The 26-year-old complainant took the witness stand at the trial of Zachary Torcaso and Dereck Maione on assault and other charges stemming from the incident.

Torcaso has pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault and single counts of break and enter to commit the indictable offence of mischief and threatening.

Maione faces three charges and entered not guilty pleas to break and enter to commit an indictable offence, possession of a dangerous weapon (a knife) and committing an assault while carrying a weapon.

Gridzak testified that two of his friends had dropped by his parents' MacDonald Avenue residence — his family was out of town — for drinks and to play video games, before they cabbed to a downtown bar.

The trio drank beer — Gridzak testified that he consumed three to four bottles — before they went to Top Hat on Queen Street East at about 11 p.m.

At the bar, they ran into a woman, "an acquaintance from a few years ago" who had dated a friend's brother, he told assistant Crown attorney David Didiodato.

Gridzak said they stayed there, where he had some more beer and two to three shots, until about 1:30 a.m., before the friends and the woman returned to his home to play beer pong in the basement rec room.

Before they began playing, the woman "started getting emotional, tearing up, telling me she missed her ex-boyfriend Zach," he said.

The Crown witness said he suggested she call someone to come and pick her up, and she indicated she was going to phone her ex.

About 10 minutes after she made the call, she relayed information that he had arrived, and Gridzak testified they went to the front-door landing where she was putting on her shoes when he heard a "big bang" on the door.

He told the six-woman, six-man jury that "Torcaso kicked the door down and struck me with a closed fist."

Gridzak said he was "caught off guard" and was pushed into a closet door, which came off its hinges.

The first blow struck him on the right side of his face, he said, indicting he was hit two or three times before he asked his attacker, who he was and the man replied "I'm Zach, f-----r."

Gridzak said he started to retreat down the hallway to get away, calling out to his friends who were still in the basement.

His attacker followed him, and Gridzak said that's when he saw a second person, whom he identified as Maione, with "a big knife with a black handle."

He said he then spotted one of his friends, and the two of them backed into the kitchen, and were followed by the "two assailants."

Gridzak explained that he eventually made it outside, followed by Torcaso and he ran around him and went back inside, barricaded the door and told the second man, who still had the knife, to "please, please leave my house."

When the man left, Gridzak said he called police.

Didiodato provided the court with photographs that showed blood on the front door and handle, and a wall next to the door, which Gridzak described as his blood.

Photos of Gridzak revealed blood on his face, hands, arms and shirt.

Gridzak said he didn't know the two accused, but looked up Torcaso on Facebook after a police officer mentioned his last name and "recognized him" when he clicked on his profile picture.

He testified that he got Maione's name from one of the friends who was at his house that night, recognized him when he came up as a friend of Torcaso's on Facebook and gave his name to the investigating officer.

During cross-examination by Eric McCooeye, Torcaso's lawyer, Gridzak agreed that he was intoxicated, and the three people, including the woman, with him at the house likely were in the same state.

He denied the defence lawyer's suggestion that he had been in a bedroom with the woman, not downstairs with his friends, prior to the incident.

Gridzak, who agreed that he was involved in martial arts until he was 17 and has a first-degree black belt, indicated he punched Torcaso in the face during the altercation.

He said the blood on his hands wasn't checked to determine if it was someone else's blood.

He also told McCooeye he hasn't any explanation about why he told 9-1-1 that three men were trying to break in to his house.

"I don't recall that," he said, when McCooeye played a tape of the call.

When the defence pushed him about why he told the 9-1-1 operator he didn't know the men and didn't mention the name Zach, he said "I was scared. I wanted them to tell me they were coming." 

The trial continues at the Sault Ste. Marie courthouse.


About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 35 years.
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