As reported on www.latimes.com/news
SAN DIEGO — Four of five La Jolla men initially charged with murder in the beating death of a professional surfer pleaded guilty to lesser charges Friday.
The fifth defendant, accused of delivering the fatal blow, rejected a plea bargain and still faces murder charges.
What began that night in May 2007 as a barroom argument ended in a fatal confrontation — with Emery Kauanui, 24, bleeding from his head outside his mother’s La Jolla home.
Kauanui died three days later, after being treated for bleeding in the brain, facial fractures and multiple contusions.
The defendants, all former La Jolla High School football players, had faced possible sentences of life in prison.
The reduced charges carry sentences from three to five years, but the judge is not bound by the plea agreement and could put them on probation at the September sentencing, officials said.
The case gained unusual notoriety because it involved the death of a surfer in La Jolla, and neither the sport nor the neighborhood usually is associated with such violence.