Las Vegas Sun

January 16, 2018

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Bouncer’s bail only slightly reduced

A videotape that shows a bouncer beating a couple outside a local nightclub was all a District Court judge needed to rule against significantly lowering the bouncer's bail on assault charges Thursday.

District Judge Valorie Vega agreed to reduce Gaylen Kanoa's cash bail, but only slightly. His bail had been $100,000. Vega lowered it to $80,000.

The ruling came after Vega viewed the tape that prosecutors say depicts Kanoa punching Christopher Ecklund and Brandy Provenzano, 29, outside the now-closed R&R Club on Jan. 17.

"The saying that a picture paints a thousand words sure holds true in this case," Vega told Kanoa. "You should be fortunate that Mr. Ecklund wasn't killed by this very violent act upon him."

Kanoa in May pleaded guilty to two counts of battery causing substantial bodily harm as the result of a plea agreement. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped a charge of attempted murder.

Prosecutor Bill Kephart said he entered the deal because proving that Kanoa actually intended to kill Ecklund would have been "tenuous."

Though the charges are probationable, Kephart said he plans to argue for prison time when Kanoa is sentenced on July 10. Kanoa faces a one- to six-year sentence on each count.

But defense attorney Virginia Eichacker had asked Vega to reduce Kanoa's bail to $6,000, calling the initial bail "excessive."

Eichacker said Kanoa, who moved to Las Vegas from Hawaii a year and a half ago, wasn't a danger to the community or a flight risk.

"Bail is not to be a form of punishment, but to ensure a defendant's appearance in court," she said. "Mr. Kanoa wants to do nothing to further jeopardize his freedom or his family."

Authorities claim the melee began when Ecklund and his friend, Christian Rodgers, asked why Rodgers' car had been towed.

They say Kanoa grabbed Ecklund by the throat, then beat him with his fist and repeatedly slammed his head against a car and a concrete curb.

When Kanoa's brother pulled Kanoa off of Ecklund, prosecutors claim, Kanoa then turned on Provenzano, striking her in the face. Rodgers captured the melee on videotape.

Kanoa fled the scene following the incident and turned himself in about a month later.

Eichacker said Kanoa's fiancee and family members, who were in court during the hearing, were willing to help post Kanoa's bail if it were reduced.

The family members, including Kanoa's sister-in-law, who helped manage the club, had provided Vega with several letters on Kanoa's behalf.

"Those letters show you the character of Mr. Kanoa outside of this incident," Eichacker said. "He is a loving, warm, caring person."

But Kephart said the tape shows a different side of Kanoa.

Kanoa initially told police he was on drugs at the time of the incident and that he thought Ecklund was threatening his brother, Kephart said.

"The person that was supposedly threatening him was 110 pounds," Kephart said. "This was a little guy compared to this guy and his brother."

Kephart said Kanoa's previous attorney, private attorney Michael Warhola, had called the incident a "parking lot scuffle."

"This man attacked defenseless individuals and the attack was very violent," he said. "The fact that he's a bouncer only makes it more outrageous."

Eichacker said her client never denied the seriousness of the incident and took full responsibility for his actions.

"He has not in any way tried to minimize what he did," she said. "He is extremely remorseful."