Grieving Girlfriend Describes Surfer's Tragic Death

"I heard his skull crack," woman testitifes

The girlfriend of a professional surfer testified Monday about the drunken fight that led to his death.

Jennifer Grosso said suspect Seth Cravens, 22, hit her boyfriend, Emery Kauanui, Jr., 24, with a single punch in May 2007, causing him to hit the pavement.  Prosecutor Sophia Roach says it was murder.

"He just gave him one extremely hard punch, and Emery just fell back immediately," said Grosso.  "It was like the lights went out in Emery."

Grosso was the first witness in the trial.  She described the fighting words spewed by her boyfriend, the defendant and four other men -- Orlando Osuna, Eric House, Matthew Yanke and Hank Hendricks -- at the La Jolla Brewhouse bar, just minutes before the fatal confrontation.  Grosso then told the jury what she saw when she drove to her boyfriend's house, where Kauanui was fighting in the street with House.

Grosso said Kauanui had lost the fight with House, but manged to stand up.  She said Cravens then hit Kauanui with a single punch.

"I heard his skull crack when it hit the pavement.  I mean, at that point, after the punch happened, it was like, silence, and there was like a 'crack'. It was just like a 'slap', a clean break, and you could hear it . I mean it sounded like something pinged off the concrete and then immediately after that there was a pool of blood that started streaming from the back of Emery's head," Grosso said.

"I was screaming at the top of my lungs.  I remember looking at Seth saying, 'Why? Why did you to this to me?'  He just looked at me," she said.

Defense attorney Mary Ellen Attridge says Cravens was simply defending himself against an aggressive Kauanui. In her opening statement to the jury, Attridge described Kauanui's death as "tragic," but not not a murder. Attridge also said Grosso has made inconsistent statements about what happened that fateful night.

Osuna, House, Yanke and Hendricks all pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the beating death. The four men were sentenced to prison time and years of probation for their parts in the killings.  Cravens could face 15 years to life in prison if convicted.

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