Neighbor Of Kauanui Describes What He Heard On Fatal Night

As reported on

SAN DIEGO – A longtime friend and neighbor of a La Jolla surfer who was fatally injured during a fistfight last year testified Tuesday that he heard screaming and stomping outside his home the morning of the incident.

Thomas Corona, 21, told a jury he was in his living room on May 24, 2007, around 1:30 a.m., when he heard a woman yell, “Get off of him! … Seth, please stop. Get off of him!”

The testimony came on the second day of the San Diego Superior Court trial of Seth Cravens, 22, who faces a murder charge in connection with the death of Emery Kauanui, 24, and other felony counts.

Cravens, who prosecutors have said is part of a group called the Bird Rock Bandits, faces a possible prison sentence of up to 15 years to life if convicted of second-degree murder.

During his testimony Tuesday, Corona said he recognized the woman’s voice as that of Jennifer Grosso, Kauanui’s girlfriend. Corona said he also heard male voices saying, “Get him. Hit him.”

Emery Kauanui

Emery Kauanui at his home break, Windansea in La Jolla, CA.

The blows came rapidly for two to three minutes, Corona said.

“It was nonstop,” he told the jury. “I could hear hit after hit and stomping, and it wasn’t stopping. It just wasn’t stopping.”

Corona said he changed his clothes and ran outside, where he saw Kauanui on the ground, bleeding from the head.

When questioned by a defense attorney, Corona said he didn’t know who was doing the stomping or hitting. He said earlier that he knew Cravens – and other defendants in the case – through school and from growing up in the La Jolla community.

Other witnesses who testified Tuesday included another neighbor who was awakened that morning by noises outside his home, San Diego police officers who were called to the area, and Karen Loftus, who said she saw the fight in progress as she approached the corner of Draper Avenue and Genter Street.

Loftus testified that she and her boyfriend were en route to Kauanui’s house when they saw bodies moving in the area. When she got closer, she said, she saw Kauanui on the ground and four or five people around him.

Eventually, she saw Kauanui get up and take a swing at one of the people near him, Loftus said. For a moment, she said, the action stopped.

Loftus testified she could see Kauanui standing with his hands at his sides, talking to two men nearby. One of them had blond hair and a bloody face, she said. The other was more heavy-set.

The larger man stepped up and punched Emery once, Loftus testified. She said Kauanui “flew backward and his head hit against the concrete.”

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