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Beaten man says he didn’t start fight with SLO firefighter

Deputy District Attorney Kristy Imel holds a photo of the victim, Jory Brigham, 33, who suffered a broken nose, broken jaw and broken cheekbones during a June 2011 altercation at Pappy McGregor's Bar & Grill in San Luis Obispo. Opening arguments started in the trial of John Mason, charged with the assault.
David Middlecamp
09-10-2012
Deputy District Attorney Kristy Imel holds a photo of the victim, Jory Brigham, 33, who suffered a broken nose, broken jaw and broken cheekbones during a June 2011 altercation at Pappy McGregor's Bar & Grill in San Luis Obispo. Opening arguments started in the trial of John Mason, charged with the assault. David Middlecamp 09-10-2012 dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

A man allegedly battered by an off-duty firefighter last year said some of his memories from the incident are “hazy and dreamlike.” But he insisted before a jury Tuesday that he did not start the altercation that resulted in him suffering 17 facial fractures.

“I absolutely never touched him before he touched me,” Jory Brigham told a jury in a San Luis Obispo Superior Court room.

Defense attorney Chris Casciola, however, tried to suggest that an intoxicated Brigham physically struggled with his client during that hazy period — and that his client was only protecting himself.

“It seems as though you remember everything from that night except for about 10 seconds,” Casciola told Brigham.“Because of head injuries?” Brigham responded. “Yes.”

Casciola’s client, John Ryan Mason, faces charges of felony assault with great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury related to a June 4, 2011, altercation at Pappy McGregor’s Bar & Grill in San Luis Obispo.

According to court testimony, the 35-year-old member of the San Luis Obispo Fire Department was angered by a Facebook comment Brigham had made, which he believed alluded to his own marital problems. Months later, Brigham said he tried to patch things up with Mason in the bar’s restroom. Instead, he said, Mason reacted angrily.

In earlier testimony, Brigham, a custom furniture designer, said he saw Mason raise a fist, then Brigham was on the floor.

On Tuesday, Julie Anne Senter, a paramedic with San Luis Ambulance, said she found Brigham on the floor with “lots of blood on his face and confused about what was going on.”

Several days later, after swelling subsided, Brigham would undergo surgery for a broken nose, jaw and cheekbones.While Brigham said there’s a void in his memory, he said he thinks he might have tried to stand his ground once Mason came at him.

“Did I protect myself?” he said. “Obviously not very well.”

Mason was uninjured in the incident.

While Brigham admitted to drinking tequila that night, Nicole Mares, a friend of both men, said Brigham appeared happy and not intoxicated. Mason, she added, seemed agitated that night. “He just seemed like he wasn’t in a happy place,” she said.

Casciola plans to present witnesses who will say an intoxicated Brigham was the aggressor. Meanwhile, prosecutor Kristy Imel plans to present witnesses who will describe other violent incidents involving Mason.

Also, Brigham testified Tuesday that he has not hired a civil attorney nor has he decided whether to file a lawsuit. And, he said he has gotten rid of his Facebook account.

“I figured not a whole lot of good comes from it,” he said.

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