The man accused of fatally stabbing two people and injuring six others on the Las Vegas Strip could have been behind bars at the time of the attack but wasn’t because of prosecutorial missteps, the Daily Mail reports.
Yoni Barrios, 32, has been charged with two counts of open murder with use of a deadly weapon and six counts of attempted murder in connection with Thursday’s rampage.
Barrios allegedly used a large kitchen knife to kill 30-year-old Maris Mareen DiGiovanni, one of several showgirl performers targeted in the spree, and 47-year-old Brent Allan Hallett.
Barrios, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, could have been in jail when the attack occurred but for disarray in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.
In July 2019, authorities in California charged Barrios with “criminally injuring a spouse, cohabitant or fellow parent in an act of domestic violence,” but the case was dismissed because the state waited too long to prosecute, according to court records obtained by the Daily Mail.
The assigned prosecutor failed to advance the case within the required timeframe and the judge was forced to dismiss the charges under California law, the news outlet reports, citing court documents.
Had Barrios been convicted of felony domestic violence, he faced a possible sentence of up to four years in prison.
The vice president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys told the Daily Mail: “If the case was thrown out by the judge, it was probably because of witness issues.”
Immigration officials have confirmed that Barrios is undocumented, according to FOX 5. He reportedly told authorities that he is from Guatemala and wanted ICE to transport him back home.
DiGiovanni was walking down the strip with several other performers when Barrios began speaking with them and then attacked them randomly on Thursday afternoon.
“Barrios thought the women were laughing at him and making fun of his clothing,” a police report states, according to KABC-TV.
In an interview with Las Vegas police after the stabbing attack, Barrios said he was living in Los Angeles and had come to Vegas planning to stay with a friend, but that person declined to provide accommodations, so Barrios went to the strip.
Cheryl Lowthrop, who employed DiGiovanni and the other performers, decried the fact that Barrios could have been in jail on Thursday.
“I think there is no doubt that our criminal justice system is deeply flawed, and most certainly in the arena of domestic violence,” Lowthrop told the Daily Mail. “Beyond the obvious, that had he been convicted and or jailed we would not be in this situation. . . . It is no surprise that we fail to protect our women inside of our legal system as well.”
Lowhtrop called DiGiovanni a “beautiful soul” in a GoFundMe account created to help pay for DiGiovanni’s funeral and medical expenses of the injured performers.
“Our showgirl family has been wounded beyond reason, the beautiful soul of Maris DiGiovanni has been stolen,” Lowthrop wrote. “Three other of our girls wounded and hospitalized, but thankfully their lives spared.”
Clark County prosecutors have not yet determined whether to seek the death penalty, according to FOX 5.
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[Feature Photo: Police Handout]