TV actor Dustin Diamond was convicted of two charges stemming from a fight in a bar, but a Wisconsin jury cleared the former Saved By The Bell star of the most serious count.
The jury’s verdict came just hours after the 38-year-old actor testified that he never intended to stab anyone in the fight last Christmas Day.
He had pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of recklessly endangering public safety, plus two lesser misdemeanours – carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct.
Diamond, who played the character Screech on the popular 1990s show, said some people had wanted to shake his hand and pose for photos at the bar, but that others were badgering him and his girlfriend, Amanda Schutz.
He said he was trying to scare bar patrons in Port Washington after his girlfriend was punched in the face.
“I felt like we were being set up for antagonistic purposes,” he said.
Witnesses testified that Schutz pushed one woman at the bar and grabbed another woman’s hand, initiating the incident. Schutz also faces a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.
Diamond said he tried to help Schutz and took out his pocketknife to deter the group from hurting her more.
The man who was stabbed, 25-year-old Casey Smet, testified on Thursday that he did not know he had been stabbed until he had left the bar and was talking to police.
After maintaining a serious facade during most of the trial, Diamond grinned yesterday when a defence lawyer asked if he liked being compared to the character Screech.
Diamond said he, like his character, enjoyed nerdy things, and that he liked being identified in public as the goofy television character.
“That means they love you,” Diamond said. “That means you’re doing your job.”
Port Washington is 25 miles north of Milwaukee.
The charge of carrying a concealed carries a maximum sentence of nine months in prison, while disorderly conduct has a maximum sentence of 90 days in prison.
Diamond did not display emotion at the jury’s decision. He told reporters he could not comment as he left the courtroom after a 13-hour day of testimony and jury deliberations.
The jury also convicted Schutz of disorderly conduct. She faces a maximum of 90 days in prison.
A sentencing date for Diamond and Schutz has not been announced.