Two years ago a murder story in Bakersfield haunted me and, despite uneasiness, I decided to view the crime scene. A forty-year old man, Patrick Matsuda, who lived in a neighborhood of new and expensive homes, had been killed by bat-wielding miscreants. For weeks residents had been complaining to each other and the police that a house on their street, where the owner was usually absent, had been taken over by young adults, one related to her, who regularly hosted boisterous parties and apparently used and perhaps sold drugs outside. Matsuda, who lived with his wife and young children across the street, was particularly upset. Ironically, earlier that Saturday evening he’d hosted a quiet party of mixed martial artists who could’ve been manifestly helpful later on. Matsuda had also been a wrestler at Cal State Bakersfield and, later, a champion bodybuilder. He was confident about his fighting ability. He was also intoxicated.
Brian Martin Thompson and his girlfriend claimed Matsuda crossed the street and shouted, “Clean up the (bleeping) house,” and that she argued with him and told him to leave. That is the essence of the problem, and one I understand from years of living in Bakersfield neighborhoods that looked reasonably safe but housed many criminals and marginally-educated people who habitually played nerve-shaking music outside and did not respond pleasantly when asked, politely or not, to keep the noise down. They believed their street turf extended inside everyone’s homes. From such a group we’ll never learn what the long-tormented Matsuda really did. According to the female, he punched her in the face. In the original Bakersfield Californian reports I don’t remember reading about any physical signs of her being struck. That’s suspicious since a strike from a wrestler-bodybuilder-mixed martial artist generally does damage. Her claim that Matsuda hit Thompson in the jaw and took him down is plausible.
Tough guy Thompson began to feel like a pansy and scampered inside to plead for help, and lots of his brethren dashed from the house and surrounded Matsuda, who retreated to his garage and grabbed a bat and returned. It is alleged by members of this mob – Matsuda would not be able to speak for himself – that he hit the female in the shoulder with his bat and was thereupon knocked in the head by a bat swung by Michael Lee Taylor. Matsuda went down, and that should’ve ended this confrontation. Instead, Thompson and Blayne Allen Clifford, having also acquired bats, continued to smash the head of the unconscious Matsuda. He died a short time later.
In October 2010 Taylor pled no contest to voluntary manslaughter and received six years in prison. Last week Thompson and Clifford decided not to risk murder convictions in trial and accepted similar sentences, which they wouldn’t have if this were a case of justifiable self-defense. A few days after Matsuda’s death I drove by and saw a boarded up and battered structure amid custom homes and understood how the three convicts and their accomplices terrorized a neighborhood and provoked one man to make bad decisions in trying to stop them. If Matsuda had been sober, perhaps he would’ve called his martial-artist friends to return and then contacted the police and told them they could handle matters if they got there first.
Source: Facts of this case were reported by the Bakersfield Californian.