Savage beating of stripper nets five charges, high bail

"This photo is absolutely horrific," said District Judge Linda Bell before she slapped a $500,000 bail on a Las Vegas man charged with domestic violence.

A grand jury indictment was returned Friday against Michael David Perez, charging him with five counts related to beating his girlfriend for 4½ hours after the woman, a dancer at the Olympic Garden strip club, didn't bring home enough money one January night.

Prosecutor David Stanton showed Bell a photo of the victim's face after the beating as he requested the high bail.

"It's simply a matter of protecting this woman so he doesn't kill her," Stanton said.

The photo showed swelling bubbles of purple skin protruding from the victim's eyes and lips, which looked as if they were about to burst. The victim suffered multiple facial injuries, including fractured eye sockets, a broken nose and jaw.

"An 18-year (Las Vegas police) veteran testified at the grand jury that it was the worst case of domestic violence he had seen in his career," Stanton said.

The prosecutor told Bell the woman's facial injuries were so severe that when police asked her to come out of her home, she used her hands to feel her way because the swelling had blinded her.

Stanton also showed the judge a photo of Perez's hands after the incident: both were swollen, the knuckles bruised.

Perez is charged with attempted murder, battery constituting domestic violence with substantial bodily harm, and several other counts.

After his Jan. 20 arrest, Perez called the victim from jail and told her to refuse to testify, Stanton said. Perez also insisted the woman change her story and tell police she had originally attacked him. Perez at the time had two healing black eyes from a fist fight with another man days before.

Perez's request was partly granted because the woman moved to Texas to be with family and did not return to testify before the grand jury. But Perez now faces a new charge of dissuading a witness from testifying, a misdemeanor.

The jailhouse calls were recorded and presented to the grand jury, Stanton said.

Before Friday's hearing Perez had been free on $10,000 bail, which was set in Las Vegas Justice Court. Stanton asked for the high bail, saying the victim's life would be in danger if Perez remained on the street.

Defense attorney James Gallo sought house arrest or a continued low bail, saying Perez maintains his innocence.

Bell sided with the prosecutor, saying she was "very, very concerned for the victim's safety."

Perez also has previous brushes with the law in Texas, where he has had arrests for assault, drunken driving and drug possession. Gallo said he expected his client to surrender to authorities in the coming days.

Perez is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 17.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review or 702-380-1039.