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Arrest Made in Death of Solana Beach Man

One month after NBC 7 Investigates reported no criminal charges filed in the case of a Solana Beach man's death, the District Attorney’s Office has reversed course and made an arrest.

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    Marijuana Debt Started Fight in Solana Beach Man's Death

    Authorities said Byron Culver showed up to collect a marijuana debt in the tens of thousands of dollars from a Solana Beach man, which broke out into a fight that left the latter man dead. NBC 7's Steven Luke has more. (Published Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018)

    This story has been updated. 

    Court proceedings Wednesday revealed that a deadly altercation between a Solana Beach man and his accused killer resulted from a marijuana deal gone bad.

    One month after NBC 7 Investigates reported on the death of George Sloss and his family’s search for justice, an arrest was made in the case.  

    On Monday, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department arrested L. Byron Culver III on felony and misdemeanor counts of battery, according to booking information on the Sheriff’s website. 

    An attorney representing Culver declined to comment about the arrest. 

    Culver is the descendant of the Culver family, known to have farmed much of what is present-day Irvine, California and the namesake of Culver Drive. 

    This past Mother’s Day, May 13, 2018, Solana Beach resident George Sloss and his fiance were at home when Culver knocked on the door. 

    Mendy Cox, Sloss’ fiance, said Culver had lent Sloss $62,000 and that day, Culver had come to collect a payment. The judge presiding over Culver's Wednesday arraignment said the debt stemmed from a 6-year-old marijuana deal.

    Cox said Culver and Sloss engaged in a fight that left Sloss bleeding and unconscious on the floor. 

    At one point, Cox said Culver kicked her as she tried to get him to leave the house. 

    Days after the assault, George Sloss died from his injuries. NBC 7 obtained a copy of the Medical Examiner’s report, which found that Sloss died as a result of “blunt head trauma,” stemming from the Mother’s Day assault. 

    “Everyone loved him. We loved him,” said Peter Sloss, George’s brother. “Always entertaining, always smiling.” 

    “He wanted to murder him.“He wanted to hurt him bad. Hurt him real bad.” 

    The family’s proof of this can be seen in a text message Culver allegedly sent Sloss more than a year before the assault took place, in September 2016, saying, “...can’t wait to put my fist through your face.” 

    Sheriff’s Deputies initially arrested Culver for felony assault but last month the District Attorney’s office told NBC 7 Investigates they declined to file those charges. When asked for details, a spokesperson said the office would only file charges in cases they believe they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. 

    Cox and two of Sloss’ daughters from a previous marriage filed separate wrongful death lawsuits in civil court against Culver, in hopes of compelling the District Attorney’s office to press charges. In October NBC 7 Investigates broke the story.

    DA Declines To Prosecute Solana Beach Man’s DeathDA Declines To Prosecute Solana Beach Man’s Death

    NBC 7's Investigates' explains why the victim's family believes the DA chose to ignore the death.

    (Published Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018)

    After NBC 7’s reporting, a spokesperson for the District Attorney's office confirmed prosecutors had reopened the case based on "new information" and on Monday, Culver was arrested. 

    In a statement to NBC 7 Investigates, Steve Walker, a spokesperson for the San Diego County District Attorney’s office said, “As prosecutors, we follow the facts and evidence known at the time when making charging decisions and can only file charges when we believe we can prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

    “It is not unusual for further investigation to result in charges weeks, months or even years after a crime occurs. Ultimately, we’re focused on justice in every case we review,” Walker said. 

    Peter Sloss said he and his family were pleased to hear the news but that they feel it should have happened sooner. 

    “You can’t come to a man’s house, kill him and walk away,” Peter said. 

    Culver pleaded not guilty to a felony battery charge and had his bail reduced from $1 million to $100,000.

    Cox told NBC 7 on Monday that the District Attorney’s Office has been in touch with her since reopening the case and she is now optimistic that justice for her fiance will be served.

    To read NBC 7 Investigates’ original reporting on this case, click here.