Judge Will Not Dismiss Murder Charge Against La Jolla Man

Seth Cravens accused in beating death of Emery Kauanui

Despite arguments from the defense that Seth Cravens never intended to kill anyone, a judge said the jury must decide whether he is guilty of murder in the beating death of a professional surfer.

The defendant, Seth Cravens, is charged in the beating death Emery Kauanui last May.  Cravens' attorney argued the death of Kauanui was "tragedy," but insists that Cravens was simply defending himself when he punched Kauanui in the face.

Jurors will now hear closing arguments in the case Friday and start their deliberations.

On Thursday, a defense witness said an accused killer and his alleged victim were yelling at each other and ready to fight, just moments before the fatal punch was thrown.

Hank Hendricks, who testified on Thursday morning, witnessed the fatal encounter.  He told the jury that Cravens and Kauanui were challenging each other to fight, and were within inches of each other's face, when Cravens hit Kauanui in the face with his left hand.

Hendricks, along with Cravens and others present at the May 2007 fight, were members of the so-called "Bird Rock Bandits," which the prosecution says was a violent, aggressive gang in La Jolla.

Hendricks also said he and friends never said anything about wanting to "kill" the victim in the minutes leading up to the fatal encounter.

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