Man and dog acquitted of robbery, assault

A man accused of robbing, assaulting and turning his dog on another man was acquitted today in San Francisco Superior Court, the deputy public defender's office reported.

Attorneys for John Mastbrook, 23, said a jury did not believe that Mastbrook had purposely let his dog loose so he could snatch a man's wallet during an incident Sept. 6 at Powell and O'Farrell streets in San Francisco.

Mastbrook, who recently came to San Francisco from rural Virginia, had been living out of his car in the city for nearly two months when he was involved in an alleged dispute with complaining witness Adam McFarland, Lea Villegas of the public defender's office said.

McFarland accused Mastbrook of letting his dog loose and then taking McFarland's wallet, according to officials.

Mastbrook testified that acquaintances of his had been chasing McFarland for robbing them, and that his dog got loose before he could successfully restrain it, according to the public defender's office.

Defense attorneys reported the jury found Mastbrook's testimony more credible than McFarland's, which was reportedly inconsistent.

The dog was also acquitted and was released Dec. 1 by Animal Control to Mastbrook's family, who were driven in from Virginia for the trial, according to the public defender. Mastbrook's mother made the trip to testify to her son's non-violent nature, according to Villegas.

Following the verdict, Deputy Public Defender Tal Klement said, “He was accused of chasing down, kicking, and robbing someone, while successfully restraining an angry dog, all the time with bare feet. I am satisfied that the jury was able to see the truth in this case and set this young man free.”

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