Las Vegas Strip stabbing suspect was jailed after 2015 attack

Updated August 10, 2017 - 7:21 pm

The man accused of stabbing a Palazzo security guard Wednesday morning previously went to jail for trying to stab a security guard at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, records show.

Joseph Espinoza, 34, was arrested Wednesday, about eight months after he completed his sentence in the earlier case. He is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center on charges of attempted murder and battery with a deadly weapon in connection with the Palazzo incident.

The stabbing happened about 7 a.m. Wednesday on the casino floor of the Palazzo at 3325 Las Vegas Blvd. South. Police said a homeless man plunged a knife into a guard’s chest for unknown reasons, then ran from the scene.

Las Vegas police arrested Espinoza a short time later near The Mirage. The injured guard is expected to survive.

About a year ago, Espinoza pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted battery with substantial bodily harm after punching a Cosmopolitan security guard in the face, then attempting to stab him with a pocket knife, court and police records show.

The incident occurred on Oct. 10, 2015. The security guard was injured from the punch but “dodged the slashes,” which were “unprovoked,” according to Espinoza’s arrest report.

Espinoza ran from the scene and later was arrested on a pedestrian bridge near the Miracle Mile Shops on the Strip after a “long violent struggle” with a Las Vegas police officer, according to the report, which notes that Espinoza tried unsuccessfully to pull the officer’s firearm from its holster.

According to court records, Espinoza has a history of mental illness and drug use. In November 2015, shortly after his arrest, he was found incompetent and sent to a psychiatric hospital for treatment.

“He is not capable of understanding the charges against him and is unable to assist counsel in his defense,” according to court minutes from the competency hearing.

About eight months later, he was found competent. He entered his guilty pleas in August 2016 and was sentenced to 18 months in the county jail for the two gross misdemeanors, with credit for 312 days already spent behind bars.

Espinoza was released Nov. 24, police said.

Contact Rachel Crosby at or 702-380-8135. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter. Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Max Michor contributed to this story.

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