Trial ordered for man accused of break-in at home of former San - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Trial ordered for man accused of break-in at home of former San Diego councilman Harry Mathis

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An ex-con accused of attacking former San Diego City Councilman Harry Mathis at his University City home and forcing him to open a safe at gunpoint must stand trial on 10 charges, including kidnapping for robbery, false imprisonment and burglary, a judge ruled Friday.

Harvey Henry Duson, 45, is also accused of robbing two sales representatives at a Sprint phone store on Rosecrans Street two months before the break-in at the Mathis home.

After a two-day preliminary hearing, Superior Court Judge John Einhorn ruled that enough evidence was presented for Duson to proceed to trial for the Mathis break-in Jan. 11 and the robbery at the Sprint store last Nov. 9.

He faces up to 165 years to life in state prison if convicted.

Mathis, now 79, testified Thursday that he was attacked about 9 p.m. by two men as he got out of his car in his garage.

"They were yelling, `Where's the cash?"', Mathis recalled.

Mathis -- who said he was legally carrying a concealed firearm because of two previous break-ins at his home -- testified that he struggled with one of his attackers over the gun, but couldn't get a clean shot at the assailant.

Mathis, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transit System board, said he fired two quick shots into the air in hopes neighbors might hear and call 911.

He said he gave up the fight over his gun when one of the attackers hit him hard in the head, with what he thought was the butt of another gun.

Mathis said he was ordered to strip down to his underwear and taken at gunpoint to open a safe in a back bedroom. The witness said his wife and a neighbor were inside.

Mathis said he struggled to open the walk-in safe and his assailant grew anxious.

"He said, 'Hurry up or I'll shoot,"' and also threatened to "torch the place," Mathis testified.

Mathis said he thought the intruders were after his gun collection and was surprised to learn they wanted cash, which he didn't keep in the safe.

He said the intruders put him, his wife and neighbor into a bathroom and left, but not before setting fire to some clothes in the kitchen and to one of the cars in the garage.

The victim said the attack happened the day before his 79th birthday.

"Actually, it's the best birthday I've ever had," Mathis told prosecutor Martin Doyle. "I lived to see it."

Duson -- who was released from state prison last year after serving half of a 32-year sentence for an armed robbery in Lemon Grove -- was arrested in Arizona in February following a high-speed pursuit, a day after he eluded California law enforcement.

Witnesses testified that DNA found on Mathis' car and other items in the home matched Duson's DNA.

DNA taken from a black sock used to tie up the victims in the Sprint store robbery also came back to Duson, said Deputy District Attorney Martin Doyle.

A Superior Court arraignment was set for June 4.

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