A California judge has raised to $10 million the bail of Shelley Malil, an Indian American actor accused of stabbing a woman more than 20 times. Malil pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.
Judge Marshall Y. Hockett raised the bail of the actor known for his role in the movie "40-Year-Old Virgin" to more than double the $4 million that prosecutors had requested as he appeared on Wednesday in a packed courtroom, which included entertainment media from Los Angeles.
Bail initially had been set at $2 million for Malil, 43. He is charged with attempted murder with allegations of use of a knife and causing great bodily injury to Kendra Beebe, a former girlfriend during an attack in her San Marcos home. He faces life in prison if convicted.
Prosecutor Steven Carver said in court that there is evidence that the assault was wilful and premeditated, San Diego Union Tribune reported.
Requesting that bail be raised to $4 million, he said Malil was a flight risk. In 2005, Malil was involved in a misdemeanour hit-and-run, showing his "tendency to run after a crime", Carver said. Malil also has connections outside San Diego County and in India.
Defence attorney Sean Leslie argued that Malil was not a flight risk because he surrendered to authorities. He said bail was appropriate at $2 million.
Hockett said that considering the gravity of the offence, he considered Malil a danger to public safety and a danger to himself. He raised the bail to $10 million, which was met by gasps from the audience, the Tribune said.
Malil, best known for his supporting role as the character "Haziz" in the film "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," is originally from India and migrated to the US with his family in 1974.
The actor came to Hollywood in 1995 and later played a role as one of the "What are you doing?!" guys in Budweiser's "Whassup?!" commercials.
Various Internet entertainment sites say Malil has also appeared in the films "My Favourite Martian" and "Collateral Damage", and in episodes of television shows including "Scrubs", "Seinfeld", "The West Wing" and "NYPD Blue".
The prosecutor alleged Malil stabbed Kendra Beebe Sunday night in her San Marcos home during an assault that began on the back patio, continued through the house and ended on the front patio. Beebe's children were at home sleeping at the time, he said.
A companion of Beebe's who was at the home wrestled a knife away from Malil. At some point, Malil armed himself with a second knife and continued the attack on the front patio, he said. A neighbour, whom Carver called "a hero", intervened on the front patio and stopped the assault.
Carver said Beebe suffered more than 20 stab wounds, three of which resulted in major injuries, including a punctured right lung; a penetrated left lung; and a stab in her throat that just missed an artery. "She almost bled to death," Carver told the court.
Malil ran from the home on Shadetree Drive when he heard sirens, Carver said. Malil and Beebe had been dating, but their relationship had recently ended, officials said. It was not clear why Malil was at her home or what prompted the attack.
Deputies said they transported Beebe to a hospital in critical condition.
Her current condition was not released, but she is expected to survive. Following the assault, Carver said a witness reported that Malil was in Tijuana.
During the arraignment, the actor, wearing a blue jumpsuit, appeared subdued inside a glass holding area. He stood silent next to Leslie, who entered the not guilty plea on his client's behalf.