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CA Supreme Court reinstates murder conviction

•  Recent Cases     updated  2012/01/31 10:13


The California Supreme Court on Monday reinstated a man's second-degree murder conviction for killing a well-known San Diego surfer, overturning a 2010 ruling by a state appeals court that had reduced it to voluntary manslaughter.

The state's highest court said it disagreed with the decision by the 4th District Court of Appeals that cited insufficient evidence of implied malice by Seth Cravens when he delivered the single fatal punch to 24-year-old Emery Kauanui in 2007.

Cravens was found guilty in November 2009 of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 year to life in prison. The court ruling Monday means he will continue to serve that sentence.

If the voluntary manslaughter conviction had stuck, he could have faced a maximum of 16 years in prison.

Nicknamed the "Flying Hawaiian," Kauanui was a fixture at San Diego's Windansea Beach, where his favorite surf break is now called "Emery's Left."

Prosecutors said Cravens and four other men had gone to the La Jolla house of the surfer's mother to retaliate after Kauanui accidentally spilled beer on one of the men earlier in the evening at a bar.

After a group attack on Kauanui, Cravens delivered the punch to his head that prosecutors said fractured his skull. He fell then died at a hospital four days later.

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