The man accused of killing a professional surfer during a street fight should have know his punches could be fatal. That's what prosecutor Sophia Roach told the jury during closing arguments Friday in the murder trial of a La Jolla gang member.
Seth Cravens was one of five members of the so-called "Bird Rock Bandits." The men were drinking at a La Jolla bar on May 23, 2007. Cravens' friend, Eric House, had an altercation with another patron, professional surfer Emery Kauanui. That lead to a street fight outside Kauanui's home in the early morning hours of May 24.
In closing arguments at Cravens' trial, the prosecutor told the jury that when Kauanui and House were done fighting, Kauanui stood up, and Cravens punched him hard in the face. "(He) delivers a punch that knocks Emery out cold," prosecutor Sophia Roach told the jury. "Knocks him out before he even hits the ground."
Roach said the evidence reveals that Cravens had a history of violence and had threatened to kill people. Roach also said Cravens knew, or should have known that his punches could be deadly. "This is not an accident," she said about the fatal punch. "This is not Mr. Cravens stepping off the curb and landing on Mr. Kauanui. This is an intentional act. This is not an accident."
Roach urged the jury to find Cravens guilty of second degree murder, and to convict him of other crimes involving assault and violent behavior against other victims.
The defense maintains that Kauanui's death was "tragic," and says Cravens had no intention of killing Kauanui. Attorney Mary Ellen Attridge says Cravens was in fact defending himself during that fatal encounter. Attridge will deliver her closing argument to the jury on Monday.
Four other defendants, including Eric House, have pleaded guilty to lesser crimes. They were sentenced to various terms in county jail. Two of those defendants, House and Henri "Hank" Hendricks, testified for the defense in Cravens' trial.
The courtroom was filled to capacity with spectators for the closing arguments on Friday. Some of the spectators were good friends with both the defendant, Cravens, and the victim, Kauanui.