Staff and wire reportsA man who killed a professional surfer by punching him once in the head during a fight in La Jolla was convicted Tuesday of second-degree murder.
Seth Cravens, 22, was convicted on the jury’s sixth day of deliberations. The panel indicated Monday it was deadlocked on an 11-1 vote, but the stalemate was broken when deliberations resumed Tuesday.
Cravens will be sentenced Jan. 12 for the death of Emery Kauanui, 24, who died four days after the May 24, 2007, fight.
NBCSanDiego.com reported shortly after the verdicts were read that “family members of Cravens and of Kauanui broke out in tears as the verdicts were read.”
Watch Video ClipThe station also said “he was convicted of one count of making a criminal threat, four counts of assault likely to produce great bodily injury and a single misdemeanor count of battery. The jury did find Cravens not guilty on several other counts of assault likely to produce great bodily injury and simple assault.”
KNSD also reported that “relatives of Cravens and Kauanui and defense attorney Mary Ellen Attridge did not wish to speak to the media.”
According to the station, “Prosecutor Sophia Roach would not answer questions but had a statement: These verdicts are a message to the community that brutality will not be tolerated. If there is a deficiency in the verdicts, it’s that the life of Emery Kauanui will never be replaced.”
Jurors on Friday asked for a read-back of testimony from Kauanui’s girlfriend, Jennifer Grosso.
Grosso was at the scene when Kauanui was knocked out by Craven’s single punch, fell backward and hit his head on the pavement.
In closing arguments, defense attorney Mary Ellen Attridge told the jury that Cravens acted in self-defense. She said her client wasn’t guilty of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.
Attridge said Cravens, who is right-handed, punched Kauanui once with his left hand when the victim got up from a one-on-one fight with Eric House, then screamed at Cravens from five inches away.
Grosso testified that Kauanui had been losing the fight with House when Cravens walked up and hit him, causing Kauanui to fall “like the lights went out.’'
Grosso said she heard her boyfriend’s skull crack on the ground and thought he was dead on the scene.
Attridge said Kauanui and House had been kicked out of the nearby La Jolla Brew House bar following a drink-spilling incident, after which Kauanui had threatened to kick House’s “ass.’'
The attorney suggested Kauanui was in a “homicidal state of mind,’' and therefore Cravens’ actions were reasonable under the circumstances.
She said the prosecution failed to show that Cravens acted with a conscious disregard for human life and that he had the right to use the amount of force necessary to help House, who just had the “tar’’ beaten out of him by Kauanui.
The attorney said prosecutor Sophia Roach failed to prove the fight represented a group beating on Kauanui by House, Cravens, Hank Hendricks, Orlando Osuna and Matthew Yanke.
House, 21, Osuna, 23, Hendricks, 22, and Yanke, 22, pleaded guilty to lesser charges stemming from Kauanui’s death and were sentenced to time in local custody.
Video of Verdict Being Read
Courtesy of NBC San Diego