Lawyer in ex-Raiders coach trial says assault accusers are liars

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comApril 26, 2013 

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

A former Oakland Raiders football coach might have thought he was being attacked the night he was accused of assault, but in reality he was just drunk and confused, a prosecutor said Thursday.

The coach’s attorney, however, said the alleged victim and the prosecution’s key eyewitness are “co-champion liars,” whose stories changed.

“You should have zero tolerance for liars,” Ilan Funke-Bilu told jurors. “Especially these kinds of liars.”

Attorneys began closing arguments in the trial of Randy Hanson, who was a defensive coach for Cal Poly’s football team when the incident occurred outside a Pismo Beach bar Aug. 4.

On that night, Hanson said he defended himself from a rabid Raiders fan, James Kelsey, who had taunted and threatened him. Deputy District Attorney Sandra Mitchell said Hanson hit Kelsey, now 52, with a beer bottle because he was confused after 10 glasses of wine.

“We have a lot of evidence about how drunk he was,” she said, adding that he
didn’t recall falling out of a limo or stumbling on a dance floor. “And he didn’t remember anything.”

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 criminal charges were filed against Cable.

On the night of the alleged crime in Pismo Beach, Hanson was entertaining Cal Poly boosters when he and the boosters wound up sharing a limo with Kelsey and his group.

After stopping at Harry’s Night Club & Beach Bar, Kelsey said, he returned to the limo to find Hanson passed out in the back. When he nudged Hanson in an attempt to make room, Hanson cracked his nose with a bottle.

Kelsey, whose story was backed by limo driver Gerald Vizard, suffered a broken nose and concussion.

Hanson, however, said Kelsey became belligerent toward him, telling him he wasn’t a Raider and was a “p---y.” At one point, Hanson said, Kelsey reached into the limo and grabbed his shirt, tearing it. That’s when he struck Kelsey with a bottle.

During his closing argument, Funke-Bilu rebutted the prosecution’s claim that Hanson had blocked Kelsey’s entry to the limo. Hanson weighed 160 pounds, he said, while Kelsey weighed 240.

“How does this man block a man who’s probably 50, 60, 70 pounds heavier than him?”

Vizard backed Kelsey’s story, Funke-Bilu argued, because the two had talked about working together someday, and because Vizard had neglected his duties that night.

“The last thing Vizard … wants the world to know was that he was not doing his job that night,” Funke-Bilu said. “He wasn’t there, and he didn’t prevent it.”

Initially, Funke-Bilu said, both Vizard and Kelsey said Kelsey opened the door for Hanson to get into the limo, before Hanson passed out. Later, they said Vizard opened the door, while Kelsey was still in the bar.

But if anyone was confused about the events of that night, Mitchell said, it was Hanson.

“Maybe in his mind, when he woke up in his drunken stupor, somebody was attacking him,” Mitchell said. “Maybe he had had a conversation about Tom Cable, and they called him that derogatory term. But it wasn’t Jim Kelsey.”

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