SOUTH LAKE TAHOE - Bail was set at $10 million Thursday for Steve Wasserman, who pleaded not guilty based on self-defense to charges he attacked his ex-girlfriend with a 24-inch sword.
His court-appointed attorney, Lori London, entered a not-guilty plea by reason of insanity, which was received by the court, on behalf of a defiant and frantic Wasserman, who said he didn't feel safe in jail and requested being enlisted in the federal Witness Protection Program.
Wasserman made his request during his arraignment in El Dorado County Superior Court.
Charges filed by the El Dorado County District Attorney's office include attempted murder with allegations of use of a deadly weapon and causing great bodily injury, mayhem and child endangerment.
The charges stem from a Tuesday incident at a San Francisco Avenue apartment, when Wasserman allegedly slashed his ex-girlfriend with a 2-foot medieval-type sword while their 4-year-old daughter was in the same room.
Susan Rizk remains in serious condition with wounds to her head, stomach, hands and legs at Washoe Medical Center.
She underwent surgery Wednesday on her liver and other injuries.
Her sister, Diane Watson, said Rizk was "a little more responsive" Thursday and was getting much-needed sleep.
"(Doctors) think she'll be on a ventilator for at least a week," Watson said, adding "She really looks better. Her skin looks better."
Wasserman, a 35-year-old former construction subcontractor, denied he was insane and asked to be moved from the jail to the Witness Protection Program.
"I just don't feel safe in this jail," he said. "All the inmates want to kill me. Half the guards want to kill me."
With Wasserman continually speaking, an agitated Judge Jerald Lasarow had had enough of the interruptions.
"Mr. Wasserman, if you talk I'm going to have you removed, you understand?" he said.
"Right now, it would be wise of you to keep your mouth shut," the judge added.
Lasarow removed the no-bail condition that was set when Wasserman was arrested Tuesday morning, But he assured the court that bail "will be the highest I ever set," because of the severity of the crime.
When told of the not-guilty plea by reason of insanity, Watson said it was expected.
A preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 10.
The attack came a day after a restraining order was issued against Wasserman, who was already on probation for threatening to "make his child motherless."