Naperville murder suspect: 'I was scared and panicked'
A Naperville man charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of a second-grade teacher in a bar fight says he was afraid for his life and acted in self-defense.
Daniel Olaska, 30, of the 1500 block of Foxhill Road, testified in DuPage County court for three hours Tuesday that he was drunk and frightened when he stabbed Shaun Wild, a Naperville resident who taught at Spring Brook Elementary School. Olaska also is charged with attempted murder after stabbing Willie Hayes, who was Wild's friend and a former North Central College football player, and Rafeal Castenada, a bouncer at Frankies Blue Room in downtown Naperville where the fight took place in the early morning hours of Feb. 4, 2012.
Wild died of a stab wound to the heart. Hayes survived and testified last week that he was intoxicated and remembered very little from the night.
Olaska, who took the stand in his own defense, said he has carried the knife used in the stabbings for years and used it as many as 10 times a day in his job as a ground service manager at the Schaumburg Regional Airport.
Olaska said he arrived at Frankies with a friend at about 9 p.m. after work and running a few errands. He estimated he drank between 10 and 12 glasses of red wine during the course of the evening.
Sometime after midnight, Olaska said, he was sitting alone in a booth when he looked toward the bar to get the attention of a server. When he leaned back into the booth, he said, two men he didn't know were sitting across from him. One of those men was Hayes.
Olaska said the men made friendly small talk at first but the tone changed quickly and Hayes became violent.
"It seemed like (Hayes) thought I did something wrong," Olaska testified.
After a brief argument, the details of which Olaska said he does not recall, Olaska said he stood up and said, "What the hell's going on?"
At that point, he said, Hayes "stiff-armed me in the side of my face. I said, 'What the hell?' That's when I got really scared."
Olaska said several of Hayes' friends helped calm the situation down, but a few minutes later Hayes threatened him again -- and again Hayes' friends calmed the situation. A short time later, Olaska said, Hayes popped up a second time, saying, "Let's go, let's go."
"I did not want to get up and fight," Olaska testified. "He was huge. I was scared."
Olaska said Wild appeared at that point, put his arm around Hayes and told him to leave. But Hayes threw Wild's arm off, Olaska said.
"I think he (Hayes) was going to hurt me really bad," Olaska testified. "That's when I reached for my knife and punched out at him."
Olaska said he started walking toward the exit but took only about five to 10 steps when Wild grabbed him across the throat from behind.
"I pulled at the hand. I was scared and panicked," Olaska testified. "Honestly I thought it was Willie. I grabbed my knife, poked at the arm a couple times and spun around."
When he spun, Olaska said, he was bumped from behind into Wild and the two men fell.
"I landed on top of him and I was pulled off him by someone," Olaska said. That someone turned out to be the bouncer. Olaska said he continued to struggle.
"I just wasn't thinking clearly. I was panicked and I was scared and I thought that I was still being attacked."
Once the bouncer identified himself, Olaska said he stopped fighting and maintained he "never stabbed the bouncer."
"I was drunk," he said. "It was a traumatic event. I was not thinking clearly. I wasn't taking time to go through my thoughts."
On cross examination, Assistant State's Attorney Demetri Demopoulos questioned whether Olaska actually remembered the events of the night or was prodded by his father during a series of jailhouse telephone calls leading up to the trial.
Demopoulos then played a series of recorded telephone calls from Dec. 21 and 24, 2014, in which Olaska tells his father he only remembers "bits and pieces" of the night.
On Jan. 3, Olaska's father is heard telling his son to study the security tapes from the bar, which have been played numerous times throughout the trial. Olaska confirmed his father was the other voice on the tapes.
"Try to remember as much as you can," Olaska's father can be heard telling his son. "Manufacture whatever memories you can. It's going to be necessary."
In another call the next day, Olaska's brother-in-law, who was identified as a law student, calls to read a "story (he's) been working on" about a man named Nick who defends himself against four or five "huge, angry" Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
Olaska conceded the story very much resembled his account of the night of the stabbings.
"It's similar," Olaska testified. "But I don't think it's the same story."
Olaska's trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in courtroom 4000, at which time the defense is likely to rest its case and closing arguments would begin.