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Dancer testifies of defendant’s ‘animal strength’ in ‘Thunder’ shooting trial


L.E. Baskow

The trial begins Tuesday, July 8, 2014, for Joey Kadmiri, who was beaten by Thunder From Down Under male-revue dancers at Excalibur after allegedly trying to burglarize their locker room.

Updated Tuesday, July 8, 2014 | 7:40 p.m.

Joey Kadmiri Trial Begins for Thunder

Joey Kadmiri looks through paperwork's his trial begins, he was  allegedly beat up by the Thunder From Down Under Male Revue dancers after trying to burglarize their locker room Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Launch slideshow »

A dancer in Excalibur's male strip revue “Thunder From Down Under” testified Tuesday that he and at least five other performers struggled to subdue a man accused of breaking into the troupe's locker rooms to steal costumes and props, sparking a melee that culminated when the alleged burglar fired off a gunshot that narrowly missed two people.

Matthew Fardell, who manages and performs with the Australian dance group, told a Clark County jury that he confronted Joey Kadmiri on March 18 inside the casino after he and other Thunder employees caught him hording stolen items, including a briefcase that the performers use for a scene about a stripping attorney.

"The strength of the man was just incredible. I thought he must have been on bath salts or something," Fardell told jurors in a thick Aussie accent. "It was animal strength."

During the scuffle, Kadmiri's pants slipped off, revealing that he was wearing a pair of thongs that belonged to the dancers, Fardell said. One in particular was easy to identify, Fardell said, because it was a uniquely made Australian garment.

"The ones made here in America are much looser," Fardell told the jury. "The ones that we use, because we've got a very acrobatic section of the show ... we need much more support."

Fardell said he and the men eventually restrained Kadmiri before the suspect somehow reached for a gun and pointed it at them. Fardell then jostled Kadmiri's hand and the gunshot went off, striking a wall.

The dancer told the jury that his face was singed by the heat of the blast, and he suffered permanent eye damage after gunpowder became lodged in his cornea. The shot caused Fardell's ear to bleed, and he has since suffered from tinnitus, or ringing in the ear.

Other witnesses who testified Tuesday included a security guard who confronted Kadmiri on the night of the fight, an employee at neighboring restaurant Buca di Beppo, and a Thunder staff member. Prosecutors plan to call a total of 15 to 20 witnesses to the stand to testify during the trial, which is expected to continue through this week.

The suspect faces more than a dozen charges that include felony attempted murder and armed robbery.

During opening statements, prosecutor Nick Portz presented the jury with photos of two men injured during the fight — including Fardell, whose face was bloodied and stained with soot marks in the images.

Portz said Kadmiri, in a cool and composed demeanor, lied to several employees backstage and pretended to be a member of the dance troupe in order to burglarize the locker room.

"When his con was finally up, the defendant snapped and became violent," Portz told jurors. "He fought viciously."

The gunshot narrowly missed Fardell's head and could have struck someone dining at nearby Buca di Beppo, Portz said.

"People were enjoying dinner when that shot went off," Portz said. "It's a miracle that no one was killed."

Kadmiri's attorneys, Joshua Tomshek and Roy Nelson, declined to present an opening statement to the jury. They scrutinized testimony presented by prosecutors, questioning whether Kadmiri stole the items. ​

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