WOONSOCKET – Stanislaw Okruta, 78, and his downstairs neighbor, Julien Stroz, 61, are friendly enough to watch TV together, but when an argument erupted over the remote control Sunday one of them ended up in the hospital.
Stroz was transported to Rhode Island Hospital with stab wounds to his head, arm and torso – the result of what he called “a little fight” with Okruta, according to police reports.
Because Stroz adamantly declined to file a complaint against him, Okruta was not charged with any crime, according to Detective Sgt. Matt Ryan.
Police arrived at 31 Willow St. about 10:30 p.m. and found Stroz in bed, nursing a wound on the back of his head with a towel.
The two men told police they had been drinking for hours before they had an argument over the TV remote in Okruta’s apartment, two flights up from Stroz’s, at which point Okruta ordered Stroz to get out.
Police say Stroz left Okruta’s, went downstairs and grabbed a large knife from his own kitchen. Armed with the blade, he went back upstairs and got into a physical altercation with Okruta.
Stroz said that as he wrestled with his older neighbor Okruta took the knife away from him and began stabbing him with it.
Police say there were no third-party eyewitnesses to the altercation. Although Okruta’s wife was home when it took place, she was sleeping.
When police arrived, they found Stroz lying in bed at his apartment, holding a bloody towel against his wounds. Police said they were called by relatives who decided that Stroz required medical treatment.
Stroz repeatedly told police that he didn’t want to get anyone in trouble and refused to sign a complaint against Okruta. Police called Stroz’s wounds “substantial,” but they said the hospital would not elaborate on his condition, citing medical privacy laws.
Detective Ryan said the evidence in the case would normally support a charge of assault with a deadly weapon, but without a complainant, there is no case. He said charges could still be brought against Okruta if Stroz changes his mind.
“We’re not closing the door on him,” he said. “He can come back any time.”
In Massachusetts, said Ryan, the police would have been compelled to file charges under similar circumstances. The charges could be dismissed only if a complaining witnes failed to materialize during a preliminary hearing in court.
The only time police are compelled to file charges without a complainant in a non-fatal knife attack is if the crime meets the criteria for a domestic assault. In those cases, the parties are either related, share the same domicile or have been involved in a dating relationship for a certain amount of time.