Kraska, who initially was in a six-day medically induced coma after the Feb. 10 shootings, was the star witness in the two-day preliminary hearing of Mike Montana, 54, of El Cajon, which ended on June 3. Kraska is back on the air at the CBS affiliate.
If convicted, Montana faces a life term in prison for attempted murder plus 25 years for using a firearm in a violent crime.
Kraska told Judge Michael Smyth he hired Montana to paint the outside of his home and initially paid him $800 for supplies upfront in October of 2014. The remaining $2,200 was to be paid when the job was finished, but Montana quit after painting the street side of the house and the front door of the Scripps Ranch residence.
Kraska testified Montana initially emptied the contents of his van into Kraska's backyard; the items included old clothing, shoes, miscellaneous equipment and “very dirty” dropcloths that stained some patio furniture. The grass died due to chemical spilling underneath a power washer Montana had placed on the lawn, Kraska said.
Montana accidentally spray-painted some of the patio, which he told Kraska he would later fix. Montana made other mistakes, and “the work was done to create more work,” said Kraska, adding “the professionalism seemed to be lacking.”
Montana kept asking for more money, and Kraska refused, asking to see receipts that would show he had spent $800 toward the work. Kraska said he examined those receipts and that they did not equal $800. The sides of the house and several other areas remained unpainted, and Montana quit in November when Kraska wouldn’t give him more money.
Kraska then heard nothing from Montana until one morning in early February when Montana pounded on his door and left a note that demanded the full $2,200 and the threat of a suit.
On Feb. 10, Kraska backed his silver Mercedes out of his garage around 3:30 p.m. and noticed Montana had parked his white van near the house, partly blocking the driveway. Montana walked up to him and said, “You should have paid me the $2,200.”
Montana fired at the back of the car, then shooting the hood several times, Kraska said. “When I see the shots go through the hood,” he said,” I realized I was in terrible danger. He then pointed the gun at me. I heard gunshots, glass and complete chaos.” Kraska then got outside the car, thinking the shots were aimed at the vehicle.
Once outside, Kraska noticed he was bleeding and had holes in his clothes. “You shot me,” said Kraska, adding that he then “dove back into my car.” The shots stopped, and he saw Montana’s van drive away.
“I had multiple holes in me; I was bleeding badly,” said Kraska. He said he then reached for his cell phone in his rear pocket but discovered a bullet had destroyed it.
Kraska testified he crawled 50 to 60 feet away and that an off-duty police sergeant and a neighbor administered first aid. Kraska said he replied “Mike Montana” when the officer asked him who shot him.
Montana’s attorney, Richard Jayakumar, urged the judge not to order his client to stand trial for the premeditation allegation, saying “the shots are all over the vehicle” and were not fired at Kraska.
Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Zipp said Montana carried a firearm to a painting job and blocked Kraska’s car to prevent him from escaping. That shows premeditation, said Zipp.
Smyth said Montana fired 11 shots and that that shows intent to kill. “He was essentially hunting Mr. Kraska,” said Smyth. Smyth will be the trial judge in the case.
Montana pleaded not guilty at the end of the hearing. He remains in the George Bailey Detention Facility on $750,000 bail.
– Neal Putnam