Evidence heard in fight outside Grass Valley bar | TheUnion.com

Evidence heard in fight outside Grass Valley bar

A Nevada County judge has taken the matter under submission, after a two-day hearing into the evidence against two men accused of beating two other men in a fight outside a Grass Valley bar.

Travis Thomas Burdett, and David McFarland, are facing charges of battery with serious bodily injury in an April 7 fight that injured alleged victims Kenneth Franklin and Jared Higby.

Grass Valley Police officers responded to the bar in the 100 block of Mill Street just before 11 p.m. that night. The suspects allegedly had fled the scene in a white four-door vehicle and a BOLO was issued; three men were later detained and arrested.

Franklin was unconscious at the scene and was taken to Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

During a preliminary hearing into the evidence against Burdett and McFarland in Nevada County Superior Court, Grass Valley Police Officer John Herrera testified he was the first on the scene.

Herrera said he saw Franklin lying on the ground unconscious, bleeding profusely from the face.

Herrera testified that as he moved Franklin, he discovered he had a small handgun tucked into his waistband.

Higby had visible injuries to his face, including swelling around his eye and forehead and a cut to the lip, but refused medical treatment, Herrera said.

Officer Brian Hooper testified that he interviewed a witness who described a man grabbing Franklin and slamming his head into a trash can, with several men then kicking him in the head.

Higby took the stand and testified that he had gone to Yuba City with Franklin, a co-worker, and they then decided to go to Gary’s Place.

According to Higby, they had had a beer and a shot and then left to get chewing tobacco.

On their way out the door, Higby said, they had a verbal exchange with McFarland after Franklin farted.

When they returned, the two men were confronted by a group of five or six people outside the bar, Higby said, adding, “It was senseless.”

By his account, he thought the situation was defused and they tried to pass by, but were jumped from behind.

Higby testified that he did not throw the first punch, and that he did not see Franklin get hit or knocked down. He said someone jumped on his back and knocked him down, and he saw Franklin on the ground after the fight was over.

“I thought he was dead,” Higby said.

Franklin testified that he had “a couple” of beers before the initial incident, and testified that he does not remember any of the actual fight.

“I don’t recall much, just waking up in the hospital” with a concussion and a broken nose, he said.

He admitted to being intoxicated, but said he did not instigate the fight.

Franklin testified that he has a permit to carry a concealed weapon — but the Sig Sauer he was carrying was not listed on that permit.

He testified that he did not brandish or even show the weapon during the altercation.

“Did you feel threatened?” defense attorney Bill Walker asked Franklin, who responded, “A little bit.”

“Did you tell (McFarland) you were armed?” Walker asked.

Franklin denied showing his gun, saying he did not feel he was in serious danger or believe the situation would “explode” the way it did.

Franklin does have a prior misdemeanor conviction for punching another man, but Judge Robert Tice-Raskin did not rule on whether he would allow that information as evidence in the hearing.

Grass Valley Police Det. Dale Norvell testified that both Burdett and McFarland had blood on their shoes and that both had markings on their hands consistent with punching someone; both men initially denied involvement, he said.

Deputy District Attorney Tiffany Dix told Tice-Raskin that there was enough evidence to hold both defendants on battery charges, and that they could not claim self-defense.

Walker, who represents McFarland, argued that there was no basis to charge the defendants with gross bodily injury in Higby’s case.

Walker said Franklin was drinking and carrying a loaded weapon, and started the fight by “bringing attitude and flatulating near my client.”

According to Walker, there is no solid evidence or eyewitness to determine who was at fault, saying, “it’s not a clear-cut situation.”

Walker also castigated the police officers who did not contact a fourth alleged suspect, and added, ”It’s absolutely ridiculous, it’s insulting for the deputy district attorney to act like they can’t find (that suspect).”

Tice-Raskin chose to take the matter under submission and will issue a ruling Dec. 3.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

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