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Dirty details emerge in Mason trial 

Bathroom patrons, scorned former friends, and doctors testified in the San Luis Obispo firefighter assault trial in recent days, some speaking to the defendant’s demeanor the night in question, his allegedly violent history, and multiple facial fractures to the victim, which the doctor attributed to four to five likely “blows.”

John Ryan Mason, of San Luis Obispo, stands accused of felony counts of battery and assault in the June 4, 2011, bathroom beating of Los Osos resident Jory Brigham. Brigham underwent seven hours of surgery for his injuries; Mason allegedly fled Pappy McGregor’s Bar & Grill following the incident.

On Sept. 13, the jury heard testimony from Kenneth Warwick, a taxi driver who arrived at Pappy McGregor’s prior to the bathroom incident to take Mason and his wife home. Warwick said he refused to let Mason into the cab because he was argumentative and looked like trouble.

“[Mason] appeared more willing to spar with me verbally than getting to where he was going,” Warwick said.

In some of the more uncomfortable testimony, jurors were forced to listen to a former friend of Mason’s testify about two incidents where Mason allegedly tried to instigate a fistfight with him over a domestic issue.

“Are you still friends with Mr. Mason?” prosecutor Kristy Imel asked Brian Villa, a childhood friend of Mason’s.

“No, I’m not,” Villa replied.

“Why not?” she asked.

“He had an affair with my wife,” Villa responded uncomfortably, before Mason’s attorney requested a sidebar with the judge, leaving Mason and Villa alone, facing each other and trying to avoid eye contact.

According to Villa, when he went to talk to Mason about the alleged infidelity, Mason “squared up” to him in the street where both of their children were playing.

Travis Mello, Villa’s cousin, testified that Mason later instigated a scuffle with him—though no punches were thrown—at a birthday party at MoTav in downtown San Luis Obispo after Mello tried to get between Mason and Villa.

Asked why he didn’t report the incident to police afterward, Mello responded: “I’m not a fool. He’s a firefighter and knows police officers. I didn’t want him to turn it around on me and make me look bad.”

In testimony, none of the three witnesses who entered or exited the restroom actually witnessed blows being dealt, they said, and they were unable to determine whether Mason or Brigham had an advantage—although one testified he heard Brigham say, “Let’s do this another time.”

Though Mason admitted to investigators that he punched Brigham at least once and elbowed him a few times more—even after Brigham had hit the floor—Mason’s attorney, Chris Casciola, asked Eric Alltucker, Brigham’s surgeon, if it was possible Brigham’s facial injuries could have resulted from hitting the ground,
or possibly a jutting
bathroom sink.

“It’s possible,” Alltucker said, though in his own opinion, he said, the injuries were consistent with four to five “blows” to the face with “relatively high force.”

As of press time, prosecutors were expected to rest their case on Sept. 18, with the defense requiring at least one more day of testimony. Closing arguments are likely to come early the week of Sept. 24.

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