LANCASTER — Joshua Riff, the man who police said chased his victim through downtown Berlin before stabbing him in the eye so hard that the blade broke off, intends to argue self-defense at his upcoming trial on first-degree assault.
Following a dispositional conference on Monday in Coos County Superior Court, Judge Peter Bornstein wrote in his order that jury selection in Riff’s case is scheduled to begin Nov. 18 and that his trial may last up to five days.
According to court documents, Riff, 28, got into an altercation on June 19 with a 17-year-old male youth identified only as “RF,” who as a result of being stabbed by Riff, suffered “a fractured optic canal of the left eye.”
On July 22, Riff, who is represented by Public Defender Melissa Lynn Davis, filed notice of self-defense, prompting the state to file an objection three days later.
Bornstein, on July 31, said the state’s motion was being “reserved for trial.”
Riff’s motion contends that the alleged victim “was the first to act during this alleged incident when he used unlawful force against Mr. Riff.”
But the state said Riff “does not provide a sufficient factual basis to properly apprise the State of the grounds for the defense, nor does it accurately notice the State on which statutory defense he intends to rely upon at trial.”
Riff, the state said, has failed to provide “a single fact” as to what RF allegedly did before Riff stabbed him. But the state said “multiple eye witnesses” saw RF fleeing from Riff, observed Riff follow RF across a city street, pull out a knife and then follow RF “into an apartment entrance area.”
In announcing his defense, the state said Riff is required to provide facts as to why he believed deadly force was necessary “even after RF fled the initial altercation.”
Riff’s allegation that RF was the “initial aggressor may be correct for the first altercation but it is incorrect for the second,” the state said.
What is not in dispute, the state continued, is that Riff used “deadly force” when he stabbed RF in the eye, “said knife being recovered by the Berlin Police Department and a portion of the knife still lodged in RF’s head.”