Man charged in San Francisco skateboard killing claims self-defense 

A 23-year-old man accused of killing a 60-year-old man with a skateboard on Christmas morning did it in self-defense, his attorney said in court Tuesday.

Dustin “Frank” Tolboe is charged with the murder of Donald Tanksley in the Upper Haight on Dec. 25.

Tolboe’s attorney, Seth Meisels, said at the preliminary hearing that an altercation between the two men happened after Tanksley tried to steal cans of beer during an outdoor midnight Christmas celebration.

According to court testimony, the group asked Tanksley to leave, but he began swinging a metal-tipped cane at them at the corner of Haight Street and Masonic Avenue.

Meisels said Tolboe was defending himself from the cane and simply “reacted” by striking Tanksley just below his nose with the skateboard. Tanksley, known as a peacock-feather salesman who went by “Zumba,” fell backward and hit his head on the sidewalk. He died four days later at San Francisco General Hospital.

Tolboe, a Utah man who was visiting San Francisco, has been in custody since Christmas Day. He has pleaded not guilty.

Police Sgt. Greg Kane said during an interview with the suspect that Tolboe initially denied striking Tanksley and said he wasn’t present at the time of the incident, but later admitted, “I cracked the guy.”

Kane said Tolboe went on to say, “[Tanksley] needed it. He swung at me with his cane.”

Tanksley’s sister, Michelle, who was present in the courtroom Tuesday, said she wants to see Tolboe face trial.

“Murder is murder,” she said. “I wasn’t there. I don’t know who started what, I just know my brother is no longer here.”

The preliminary hearing is expected to conclude Wednesday. The judge will then decide whether there’s enough evidence to send Tolboe’s case to a jury trial.  

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

Correction: This article was corrected on March 16, 2011. A previous version of this article stated that the men were acquaintances. The court testimony on March 15 did not indicate that the men knew each other.

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Dan Schreiber

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