GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A man accused of fatally stabbing restaurateur Joey Vitale and then accosting two other men as he fled the Southwest Side restaurant has been ordered to stand trial on three charges that could put him in prison for life.
Tony Devern Streets Jr. plunged a kitchen knife into Vitale's chest moments after the married father of two told Streets ''dude, you've got to go,'' according to testimony on Friday, Nov. 9.
Streets, who has an extensive criminal history, showed up at Burton Heights Pizza on Burton Street SW visibly intoxicated and clutching a bottle of Fireball Whiskey, a kitchen worker testified in Grand Rapids District Court.
Employee Scott Bader said he was called in early because business was brisk. He described Streets as being "kind of aggressive, kind of loud.''
Vitale talked with Streets, whom he appeared to know, and asked him to leave, Bader testified.
"Joey was like 'dude, you've got to go. I've got to deal with my customers,'' Bader testified. "When I turned my back, Joey screamed. And he said 'he stabbed me' and he was holding his side.''
Kent County forensic pathologist Dr. David Start said the stab wound penetrated Vitale's right lung, diaphragm and liver. Vitale fled the business and drove himself to the hospital in a pizza delivery vehicle.
A employee who was asked to call police on Vitale's cellphone said he was confronted by a knife-wielding Streets in the parking lot.
"He told me to put the phone down, so I put the phone down,'' Jeffrey Moore testified.
The court also heard testimony from a man who said Streets tried to take his vehicle a few blocks from the restaurant.
Vitale crashed his vehicle a short distance from Mercy Health St. Mary’s hospital. A Grand Rapids police officer who responded to the crash said Vitale was bleeding heavily and drifting in and out of consciousness.
"He could say his name and say he was stabbed,'' officer Jonathan Hart told the court. Vitale was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he later died.
After hearing testimony from several witnesses, Grand Rapids District Court Judge Jeanine LaVille ruled there was enough evidence to move the case to Kent County Circuit Court.
Streets is charged with open murder, armed robbery and carjacking. He is being held in the Kent County Jail without bond.
Streets, 33, has a criminal record dating back to childhood. He got his first taste of the criminal justice system when, at the age of 10, he was accused of sexually assaulting a girl.
Before he reached adulthood, Streets accumulated another 18 charges for offenses ranging from larceny to domestic violence.
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