gavel.jpgA trial is set to begin Friday in the case of a Utah man charged with beating a man to death in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood on Christmas Day–a case his attorney has described as self-defense.

Dustin Tolboe, 23, was arrested hours after 60-year-old Donald Tanksley was found with a fractured skull in the 1400 block of Haight Street near Masonic Avenue at about 12:45 a.m. on Dec. 25, 2010, police and prosecutors said.

Tanksley, a San Francisco resident who had lived in a Twin Peaks public housing complex, died at a hospital four days later.

Police said that prior to the beating, Tanksley was arguing with a group of men, including Tolboe, a resident of Thatcher, Utah, who had been hanging out on Haight Street.

Tolboe’s attorney, Seth Meisels of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, has said Tolboe was defending himself in a scuffle that occurred after Tanksley tried to take a bag from one of the other men.

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

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

Tanksley then fell and hit his head on the sidewalk.

Meisels said his client was a skateboarder who had been visiting San Francisco and was staying in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, and planned on attending the Dec. 30 “Further Festival” concert featuring surviving members of the Grateful Dead.

Tolboe pleaded not guilty to the charges in January, and was held over for trial in March.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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