Witness to Mike Wallace beating testifies in court
Niki Melton said she heard the yelling and cursing outside the PNC Amphitheater, then hurried after a friend who had run off toward the commotion.
It was then that she says she saw an older man curled up near the tire of a car in the VIP parking lot. The Charlotte massage therapist said she turned him over and put his head in her lap. His mouth was bloody, so were his eyes and nose. One of his teeth was hanging by a thread.
Melton said she knows NASCAR driver Mike Wallace through family and friends but said she did not recognize him because of the damage and swelling to his face.
She began cleaning away the blood with a white T-shirt when violence erupted again. Melton said a boot came shooting through the darkened parking lot and hit the unconscious Wallace in the back of the head. The blow was so hard, she said, that it splattered her face with Wallace’s blood.
Wallace came to a few minutes later. Assistant District Attorney William Biggers wanted to know what the driver had to say.
“Am I allowed to cuss in here?” Melton asked District Court Judge Ronald Chapman, who will be deciding the case.
“Yes, m’am,” the judge replied.
Melton took a breath and repeated what she says Wallace told her: “We need to get that little m*****-f*****.”
‘What’s wrong with you?’
Three men went on trial Monday in connection with the June 17 attack on Wallace and his daughter Lindsey, which sent both to the hospital.
Paul Lucas is charged with assault inflicting serious injuries, assault on a female, and assault and battery. Nathan Lucas is accused of assault with inflicting serious injury, and assault and battery. Both are sons of the owner of PNC Amphitheater’s former landscaping company, Lucas Landscaping. The venue fired the company after the incident.
Randolph Mangum is charged with simple assault.
Attorneys for the three pleaded not guilty before the start of the trial. In cross-examinations, attorneys George Laughrun, Kenneth Swain and Joe Ledford began laying the groundwork that Wallace was injured in a fight that began as a parking lot argument before the concert. Wallace, they said, was a principal player in both the disagreement and the fight.
They also implied in their questioning of witnesses that additional criminal charges were filed against their clients by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police because of Wallace’s celebrity.
For his part, the NASCAR driver said he, friends and family members rode in two cars to the concert and were directed into their VIP parking spot by one of the defendants.
After the concert, Wallace said he saw the same man struggling to find his way out of the amphitheater. Back in the parking lot, he noticed the man emerging from the crowd gathered where the Wallace group had parked their cars.
“Looks like your boy made it back,” Wallace said he told members of the large group. “One of the gentleman standing there said, ‘That’s his mom.’ I said, ‘Hi mom, how you doing.’ ”
Wallace said he then noticed a younger man in a gray sleeveless T-shirt standing in the bed of a pickup – later identified as Nathan Lucas – flailing his arms and spewing profanity and screaming for someone, maybe Wallace, “to get out of here.”
“If 10 is at loud volume, he was a 20,” Wallace told the judge. “I looked up and said, ‘What’s wrong with you?”
That was the last thing Wallace said he remembered – other than being struck in the face.
Under cross-examination from Laughrun and Swain, a competing narrative began to surface. Wallace acknowledged having four vodka and Diet Cokes between 6 and 10 p.m. He also admitted having active prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication and other drugs that were not to be taken with alcohol.
The attorneys also took frequent trips to the witness stand to show Wallace video, not visible to the courtroom audience, that revealed that the driver fully engaged in the brawl. “It looks like I was the guy on the bottom of that,” Wallaced said at one point.
Wallace testified that he didn’t recall the events shown in the footage and, in fact, had never watched the full video before.
“I don’t like to look at it,” he told Swain. “I got the crap beat out of me. I hurt. ... It kind of messes with you a little bit.”
Swain pushed back. He asked Wallace whether his poor recollection of certain events had anything to do “with how much you had to drink?”
The trial resumes Wednesday. Courtroom observers said they don’t expect a verdict from the judge until Thursday.