San Luis Obispo firefighter’s ethics under fire
September 18, 2012
By KAREN VELIE
A former friend and neighbor of John Ryan Mason testified Monday that the San Luis Obispo firefighter had an affair with his wife, and then asked him if they should fight about the illicit relationship. Mason is on trial facing charges of felony assault stemming from a bar brawl.
San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputy Brian Villa said that he and Mason had been good friends for about 20 years, even purchasing homes on the same street, before he discovered Mason had been intimate with his wife.
“He had an affair with my wife,” Villa said responding to a question of why he ended his friendship with Mason. “I didn’t agree with his lifestyle.”
Villa said Mason approached him in 2011 while both of their children and Mason’s wife stood nearby. Mason said because their children played together they needed to get along, Villa said. Mason turned to walk away when Villa said he was not done talking.
Villa testified Mason then asked him if they were supposed to fight. The incident, however, ended without a physical altercation.
Nevertheless, shortly after Mason allegedly beat Jory Brigham, 32, unconscious in a bathroom at Pappy McGregor’s on June 4, 2011, he approached Villa’s cousin, Travis Mello, who was attending a birthday celebration at Mo Tav, and told him repeatedly that they needed to talk, Mello testified.
Mello said he had nothing to say to Mason and asked him to leave him alone. Mason suggested they settle the issue outside when Mello said that he felt threatened, stood up and put a hand on Mason’s chest.
Mason then allegedly pushed Mello into a mirror, shattering it and cutting his back. The fight escalated with Mason pulling Mello’s shirt over his head, trapping him. A friend of Mello’s stepped in to hold Mason back, but when he let Mason go he allegedly jumped on Mello.
Bouncers then escorted the two from the bar. While in the parking lot, Mello said that Mason again challenged him to fight while Mason’s wife stood nearby weeping.
“I am not a fool,” Mello said. “He knows police officers and he could turn it around on me.”
Mason’s attorney, Chris Casciola, asked why Mello had not told the police about the broken mirror, the cut on his back, or the ripped shirt when questioned back in 2011. Mello said that he was worried that the fight could have cost him his job at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant if he was found responsible.
Mason is charged with felony assault with great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury in the alleged attack of Brigham.