sfpd_crimescene.jpgA 23-year-old Utah man accused of beating a San Francisco man to death with a skateboard on Christmas Day is due back in court on murder charges next week in a case his attorney described today as self-defense.

Dustin Tolboe was arrested hours after 60-year-old Donald Tanksley was found with a fractured skull in the 1400 block of Haight Street, at Masonic Avenue, at about 12:45 a.m., according to police and prosecutors.

Tanksley, who according to police had lived in a Twin Peaks public housing complex, died at the hospital four days later. Prosecutors then amended assault charges to murder.

It was uncertain what Tanksley was doing on Haight Street early that morning, but police said he argued with a group of men, including Tolboe, who had been hanging out on Haight Street.

Tolboe’s attorney, Seth Meisels of the public defender’s office, said today that his client had been defending himself after Tanksley tried to take a bag from one of the other men.

The bag may or may not have contained beer, as police have suggested, Meisels said.

According to Meisels, Tanksley went after one of the men with a cane made of wood that had a metal ball at the top.

Tanksley missed and then swung at Tolboe, who blocked the blow with his skateboard and then struck back, hitting Tanksley once, Meisels said.

Tolboe then fell, and may have struck his head on the sidewalk, according to Meisels.

Meisels said he now is awaiting reports on the cause of Tanksley’s death from the medical examiner, which could take several months.

“This is one of the clearest self-defense cases I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Tolboe pleaded not guilty to the murder charge last week.

Tolboe, a resident of Thatcher, Utah, according to police, remains in custody on $1 million bail and is due back in court next Wednesday.

Meisels described his client as a skateboarder who had just been visiting San Francisco and was staying in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

He said Tolboe arrived in the city about two weeks prior to Dec. 25 and had been planning to attend the Dec. 30 “Further Festival” concert featuring surviving members of the Grateful Dead.

Ari Burack, Bay City News

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