Mike Montana was ordered to trial by Judge Michael Smyth. Montana, 54, of El Cajon, could receive up to eight years in prison if sentenced consecutively. Montana is also alleged to have shot Kraska last February in a business dispute.
Montana has also been ordered to stand trial beginning Nov. 2 in the Kraska matter.
Robert Hibler, the director of operations for the San Diego Rowing Club in Mission Bay, testified before San Diego Superior Court Judge Michael Smyth on about a dozen threatening messages left in November of 2012 by Montana after Montana was asked not to Jet Ski fast in a certain area of Mission Bay.
Hibler testified he saw Montana wear a helmet and body armor while he was on the water. He said Montana was in an area that created a wide wake; the wake caused a minor collision and an injury to one woman, disrupting the rowing club’s activities.
Hibler said lifeguards admonished Montana but that he received no ticket. Afterward, Hibler said, he began receiving death threats from Montana because “he was upset that we had called (the lifeguards) on him.” Two of those messages were played in court.
“I am furious. I’m getting a gun on the 7th, and I actually want to shoot you. Not you, but every f----- guy out there,” said one taped message. “I’m unstable,” the message continued; “I’m on medication.” Hibler added that Montana said his revenge would last 100 days.
“He suggested we have a shootout on the water,” said Hibler, adding that Montana said he has “bear Mace to use on women and children.”
Other messages contained a threat against the woman who was injured.
Three San Diego police officers investigated the case and testified that they were actually present when Montana called the club. They were unable to find a home address for Montana, Hibler said, adding that he notified all the rowing clubs about the threats. He said he last heard from Montana again in January but that no threats were made then.
Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Zipp said Montana terrorized Hibler “and the boating community in Mission Bay” for some time with the death threat calls.
Also testifying was a Department of Motor Vehicles worker who said she still fears Montana after he threatened to kill her with a machine gun. She said Montana vehemently disputed a fee during a transaction on Nov. 14, 2014 at the DMV Poway branch.
“He said he could do anything he wanted and could go home and get his machine gun and come back and blow us all up,” said the woman.
Montana's attorney, Richard Jayakumar, asked that the death threat counts be dropped, saying his client made only a “conditional threat” that he did not mean to carry out.
“The intent was clear,” Smyth responded.
Kraska, who initially was in a six-day medically induced coma after the Feb. 10 shootings that centered on a dispute involving the painting of Kraska's Scripps Ranch house, was the star witness earlier in the day in the two-day preliminary hearing. Kraska is back on the air at Ch. 8.
If convicted in the shootings, Montana faces a life term in prison for attempted murder plus 25 years for using a firearm in a violent crime.
In the death threat cases, Montana pleaded not guilty at the end of the hearing. He remains in the George Bailey Detention Facility on $750,000 bail.
-- Neal Putnam