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Moorpark man to be tried in death of counter-protester Paul Kessler

A Ventura County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that there was enough evidence to try a Moorpark man charged in the death of counterprotester Paul Kessler last year.

Judge Ryan Wright ruled that Loay Abdel Fattah Alnaji, 51, would stand trial after hearing from 18 witnesses during a two-day preliminary hearing, according to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.

Alnaji was charged with two felonies: involuntary manslaughter and battery causing serious bodily injury, with special allegations of personally inflicting great bodily injury on each count, according to prosecutor’s spokesman Joey Buttitta . If convicted of all charges, Alnaji could spend up to four years in prison.

Alnaji posted $50,000 bail. He could not be reached for comment.

Alnaji and Kessler’s lives changed forever on Nov. 5 during a pro-Palestinian rally at Westlake and Thousand Oaks boulevards in Thousand Oaks.

The site was known as a gathering point for pro-Palestinian groups protesting the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in response to the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

Kessler, 69, carried an Israeli flag and joined a group of counter-protesters. In total, around a hundred people were at the intersection.

A “physical confrontation” broke out between Kessler and Alnaji, during which Alnaji allegedly bludgeoned Kessler with a megaphone, according to the prosecutor. Kessler fell to the ground bleeding and with serious head injuries.

He died the next day in hospital.

Evidence presented at the preliminary hearing by Courtney Lewis, senior deputy prosecutor, included DNA analysis of Kessler’s blood found on the edge of a megaphone that Alnaji is accused of using to hit the man.

Kessler’s cellphone video, which shows the moments leading up to the attack, was also presented as evidence.

County medical examiner Dr. Othon Mena also testified about Kessler’s cause of death. Mena said Kessler died from blunt force trauma caused by the megaphone hit and the subsequent fall.

The prosecutor’s office said that although anti-Semitic hate speech occurred that day, they could not connect anything to Alnaji.

California Daily Newspapers

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