Crime

Defendant told wife after SLO bar fight, ‘It’s not safe’

John Ryan Mason sits in court during his assault trial in September.
John Ryan Mason sits in court during his assault trial in September. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

After John Ryan Mason left the bathroom inside a San Luis Obispo pub one night last year, he walked directly over to his wife and told her they needed to leave, according to testimony Wednesday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

“He said ‘Jory (Brigham) came after me, we need to leave,’ ” Mason’s wife, Kendra, told jurors. “ ‘It’s not safe.’ ”

Prosecutors say Mason, a 35-year-old San Luis Obispo firefighter, attacked Brigham at Pappy McGregor’s Pub & Grill on June 4, 2011, after the two attended the wedding of a mutual friend earlier in the day.

Mason’s attorney, Chris Casciola, has said his client was defending himself against an aggressor who had been drinking all day. He called several witnesses Wednesday, one of whom testified he observed Brigham speaking expletives to Mason in the bar’s restroom.

No witnesses saw the entire altercation, and Brigham said 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 in the altercation. Mason, who was not injured, faces charges of felony assault with great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury.

Prosecutors have two more witnesses to call today, and then Mason could testify.

According to court testimony, he and Brigham, 33, mostly knew each other through their wives, who were longtime friends. When Mason and his wife had marital problems, Kendra Mason confided in Alison Brigham.

Soon after, Jory Brigham posted a comment on his Facebook page that upset Mason.

Kendra Mason said she and her husband did not talk about the post. The couple, who have been married nine years, reconciled, and on the night of June 4 were “on a happy date night celebrating one of my best friend’s weddings,” she said.After the reception in Arroyo Grande, they joined friends at the San Luis Obispo pub, Kendra Mason said. They left to take a cab home, but Kendra Mason said the driver made her feel uncomfortable, and they went back inside to see if they could catch a ride with someone else.

That’s when John Mason, who goes by Ryan, went into the bathroom. Another witness, Ryan Maxwell, testified that he walked into the bathroom and saw the men engaged in a conversation that turned into an argument.

While inside a stall, Maxwell — who did not know Mason or Brigham — said he heard Brigham call Mason “a (expletive) liar.”

“I heard Mason asking, ‘Why are you trying to make this into a fight?’ ” Maxwell said, adding that Brigham seemed to be the aggressor in the argument. The two men were still talking when he left the restroom, Maxwell said.

Mason was inside the restroom about six minutes, according to evidence presented during the trial. After he left the bathroom, he and his wife immediately left and took a cab home.

During cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Kristy Imel asked Kendra Mason if she spotted blood on her husband’s suit cuff. Kendra Mason described it as a tiny, dime-sized drop.

She said she asked her husband if Jory Brigham was OK, and he said that he was.

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