The assault and battery trial of a San Luis Obispo firefighter who put another man in the hospital in a bar fight ended in a mistrial Thursday. Now the case could be retried or dismissed.
After deliberating for three afternoons, the jury in the trial against John Ryan Mason could not come to a unanimous decision, as required in a criminal case. Eight jurors determined that Mason was not guilty, and four voted to convict.
Jurors would not comment after the mistrial was announced.
San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy said the court will reconvene Oct. 18 to see whether a deal can be made or whether the charges will be dropped. Masons lawyer, Chris Casciola, was visibly happy when the jury announced its deadlock, and he said so after he left the court. I think its great.
Deputy District Attorney Kristy Imel had no comment, and the District Attorneys Office would not say whether it plans to proceed again with prosecution.
While we are pleased with the jurys hard work, we are disappointed in their inability to reach a verdict, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jerret Gran said. We felt that the defendant acted with unreasonable force due to the severity of the injuries of the victim.
Between now and Oct. 18, the District Attorneys Office will re-evaluate the case and speak with jurors, Gran said, to decide whether to retry the case or dismiss it.
Mason, 35, whose trial began Sept. 5, faced charges of felony assault with great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury. The victim, Jory Brigham, 33, suffered a broken nose, broken jaw and broken cheekbones during a June 2011 altercation at Pappy McGregors Bar & Grill in San Luis Obispo. The prosecution argued that Mason attacked Brigham, while the defense argued that Mason was only defending himself.
Casciola doesnt think the district attorney will continue with the prosecution. If so, it would be a waste of public funds and a losing battle, he said.
Their case will get worse; our case will get better, he said.
Gran replied, We strive to do justice in a case. Mr. Casciolas opinions right now dont matter in our evaluation of the case.
Casciola argued that if the District Attorneys Office moves forward with the case, it will be because of the publicity surrounding the case, specifically because of Masons occupation.
Had my client not been a firefighter, this case would not have gone to trial, he said.
His occupation did not matter, did not have any impact on our evaluation of whether or not to file the case, Gran said.
Weakness of the cases
The weakest part of the prosecutions case, said Casciola, was their main witness, Brigham, because his story changed too many times for jurors to believe it.
Mr. Brigham is not a trustworthy witness, Casciola said.
But Casciola admitted the defense had a hurdle in the severity of Brighams injuries. That made convincing the jury that Mason was defending himself hard to do.
The severity of Brighams injuries and the lack of injuries to Mason were the strongest part of the prosecutions case, said Gran, who said he didnt know enough about the prosecutions case to comment on its weaknesses.