Victims testify at hearing in sports bar stabbing

| Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2005

Two confrontations preceded a stabbing at a Murrysville sports bar that injured two people on Oct. 11, according to one of the victims.

Noah Kuharic, of North Huntingdon, testified Tuesday that he attempted to make friendly conversation with George Allen Jackson at Rick's Pub and Sports Bar before Jackson stabbed him.

The testimony came at a hearing for Jackson, 44, of 113 Lincoln Blvd., Upper Burrell, before District Judge Charles Conway. Jackson was held for trial on four counts of aggravated assault and two counts of recklessly endangering another person in the stabbing of Kuharic and John Yurinko, of Export.

The incident happened during the grand opening of the sports bar along Route 22, where scores of Steelers fans had gathered to watch the team take on the San Diego Chargers in a Monday night game.

Kuharic, under questioning by Westmoreland County Assistant District Attorney Pete Flanagan, said he was just trying to be friendly when he saw Jackson sitting by himself at the bar and approached him. He said he had been at the bar for a while and downed about seven beers before he introduced himself and asked Jackson his name but Jackson did not respond.

When he tried again, Kuharic said Jackson just looked at him and said. "Did you ask my friend if you could speak with me?"

Under cross-examination, Jackson's attorney, John Ceraso, asked Kuharic if he and Jackson had an earlier confrontation at the door. Kuharic denied that.

During questioning by both attorneys, Kuharic said when he returned to where he was sitting with a group of friends, including his brother, Jeremiah, he mentioned his conversation with Jackson.

"I just said this guy was being real rude to me and my brother took offense to that," he told Ceraso.

Kuharic testified that his brother went over to Jackson and asked him what his problem was. He said when Jackson attempted to stand up, his brother pushed him back into his seat and told Jackson, "Don't mess with us."

A short time later, Kuharic said Jackson approached him and thought he might be looking for a fight. He said Jackson raised his hand and he saw the flash of metal. Then he felt "cold metal" penetrate his skin.

Kuharic said one of his friends saw the attack and pulled Jackson away as Kuharic yelled, "He's got a knife!"

A group of people then wrestled Jackson to the floor, he said.

In his testimony, Yurinko said that he was about 5 to 10 feet away when someone jumped over the bar. He said there was a commotion and someone yelled, "He's got a knife!"

Yurinko said he looked Jackson "right in the face" and saw blood on him. He said Jackson had a knife in his right hand at his side.

"I reached for the knife with my left hand and that's when he pulled it up and cut my hand," Yurinko said.

Yurinko said he grabbed Jackson in a headlock and felt a stinging sensation in his back and realized he had been stabbed. He said he turned his body away and drove Jackson's head into the floor to avoid getting stabbed again. He said a number of people then joined in to subdue Jackson.

Yurinko said he suffered a cut to his hand and "a minor flesh wound" in his back.

Kuharic said he was treated at Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh.

Ceraso argued for the dismissal of some charges because Yurinko testified that Jackson did not make a hostile move toward him. He said Jackson reacted in pulling the knife away from Yurinko and did not intend to injure him.

Conway, however, did not agree and ordered Jackson held for court. He continued the bond at $30,000 cash and Jackson was returned to the Westmoreland County Jail.

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