Bar fight injuries described in detail at firefighter's assault trial

Doctor says Los Osos man was struck ‘with relatively high force’

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comSeptember 18, 2012 

A Los Osos man allegedly assaulted by an off-duty firefighter suffered “complex facial fractures,” a doctor testified Tuesday, including one that extended from one side of his face to the other.

Eric Alltucker, a local surgeon, said Jory Brigham, had “a number of fractures,” some of which were common to people in bicycle or car accidents.

“He was struck in the face multiple times,” Alltucker testified, later adding, “with relatively high force.”

John Ryan Mason, 35, faces charges of felony assault with great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Mason, a 15-year firefighter with the San Luis Obispo Fire Department, attacked Brigham at a San Luis Obispo bar on June 4, 2011. The two had attended a wedding for a mutual friend earlier that day.

Mason, the prosecution argues, was upset over a Facebook comment Brigham made that the defendant believed alluded to his own marital problems. Mason’s attorney, Chris Casciola, has argued that an intoxicated Brigham, obsessed with Mason’s personal life, followed the firefighter to the bar’s restroom and started a fight, prompting Mason to defend himself.

No witnesses saw the entire altercation, and Brigham says he doesn’t remember parts of it because of his head injuries. Mason said he only fought after Brigham shoved him and quit once he knew Brigham wouldn’t fight back.

Brigham suffered 17 facial fractures, including one, Alltucker said, that extended over his left eye, crossed the top of his nose and continued to the right side of his face. Brigham’s upper jaw was pushed back and up, Alltucker said.

Brigham said he was trying to smooth things over with Mason before he was attacked. Seeking to portray Brigham as the aggressor, Casciola said — outside the jury’s presence — that he wanted to present two witnesses who would say they saw Brigham get into an altercation with another man earlier that night.

“That would reflect directly on Mr. Brigham’s credibility and honesty,” Casciola argued.

But if that were allowed, Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy ruled, the prosecution could then present more witnesses to talk about past aggression involving Mason.

During one pretrial hearing, prosecutors said they were prepared to discuss seven past incidents in which Mason acted with violence or aggression.

Two such incidents were detailed in testimony Monday. Brian Villa, a sheriff’s deputy and former longtime friend of Mason’s, said Mason tried to goad him into a fight on two separate occasions in 2011. Villa, also Mason’s former neighbor, said he only wanted to talk to Mason about an affair Mason had with his wife.

Travis Mello, a cousin of Villa’s, said he and Mason got into a wrestling match at a local bar after Mason acted aggressively toward him over the spat with Villa.

Neither Villa nor Mello reported the incidents to police. Mason is expected to testify this week.

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