Oakland Raiders at center of defense in ex-coach's assault trial

Randy Hanson's attorney says fight in Pismo Beach was linked to fans of the team upset with defendant

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comApril 16, 2013 

Randy Hanson, 44, was arrested Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. Original story »

A former Oakland Raiders coach charged with assault was targeted by Raiders fans before a fight broke out in Pismo Beach, a defense attorney said Tuesday.

“The Oakland Raiders are going to be a major subject of this case,” Ilan Funke-Bilu told a judge.

However, the prosecution argued that Randy Hanson had no motive when he hit an Avila Beach man in the face with a beer bottle this past summer, resulting in a broken nose and concussion.

“The evidence will show that this crime was committed in a matter of seconds,” Deputy District Attorney Sandra Mitchell told a jury.

Hanson was a former Raiders assistant coach working as a Cal Poly football coach when the alleged incident occurred.

According to the prosecution, Hanson and a friend were partying in Avila Beach on Aug. 3 when a patron there helped them secure a limousine. Hanson later invited that patron, 51-year-old James Kelsey — along with Kelsey’s wife, stepson and a friend — to ride along to Harry's Night Club & Beach Bar in Pismo Beach. During the drive, testified Kelsey’s friend, Gary Bergstrom, the mood was jovial.

“Just people telling jokes and laughing about it,” he said.

After they stopped at Harry’s, Bergstrom passed out in the limo while the others went into the bar. Some time later, an intoxicated Hanson entered the limo as well, he said. He was lying in a fetal position, Mitchell said, when Kelsey placed a hand on him and said, “Move over so we can get in.”

At that point, Mitchell told jurors, Hanson abruptly hit Kelsey in the nose with a bottle.

“The defendant got drunk, the defendant got mad” and attacked, Mitchell said.

Funke-Bilu opted to delay his opening statement. But earlier, during a break in the jury selection, he suggested that the fight was related to Raiders fans who were upset with Hanson.

Not wanting to reveal his defense strategy, Funke-Bilu did not elaborate.

During jury selection, he wanted to ask jurors whether they were Raiders fans. But Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Duffy said he could only ask jurors whether they had strong feelings about the Raiders as the feelings related to Hanson.

Previously, some prospective jurors said during jury selection that they felt Raiders fans were thugs, gang members and convicts.   

In 2009, Hanson was involved in a scuffle with Raiders head coach Tom Cable. Hanson said Cable threw him from a chair and into a piece of furniture, breaking his jaw.

No charges were filed against Cable.

Hanson became a defensive backs coach for Cal Poly in April 2012. He resigned from that post 11 days after his arrest.

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