As reported on www.signonsandiego.com
SAN DIEGO COURTS – A judge refused yesterday to dismiss charges against a man accused of fatally injuring a professional surfer during a fight in La Jolla last year.
A lawyer for Seth Cravens argued there was insufficient evidence presented at a May preliminary hearing for Cravens to be tried on murder and other charges stemming from the fatal fight and two unrelated incidents in 2005 and 2006.
But prosecutors argued in court documents that there was enough evidence, and that a different judge was right to conclude that Cravens could stand trial.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Melinda Lasater agreed and allowed the charges to stand.
Defense lawyer Mary Ellen Attridge said she will appeal.
The trial is scheduled for Aug. 22.
Cravens, 22, is one of five young men arrested last year and charged with murder in connection with Emery Kauanui’s death. The others were Eric House, 21; Orlando Osuna, 23; Matthew Yanke, 22; and Henri “Hank” Hendricks, 22. The five are graduates of La Jolla High School and were part of a group called the “Bird Rock Bandits.”
In June, all but Cravens pleaded guilty to lesser felonies.
According to testimony presented in May, the men and Kauanui, 24, were at a La Jolla bar on May 24, 2007, when Kauanui and House argued.
Later, House and the others drove to the Draper Avenue home Kauanui shared with his mother. Kauanui and House fought outside, and House lost a tooth. Cravens then stepped in and punched Kauanui, causing him to fall back and strike his head.
Kauanui died at a hospital four days later.
Attridge said yesterday that Cravens could not be found guilty of “implied malice” murder, as prosecutors contend, because he could not have known his single punch could cause Kauanui’s death.