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California man pleads not guilty in November death of pro-Israel protester


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A California man pleaded not guilty to charges Monday in the November death of pro-Israel protester Paul Kessler.

Loay Alnaji, 51, allegedly hit Kessler on the head with a megaphone on Nov. 23 at dueling pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel protests related to the Israel-Hamas war in Thousand Oaks, about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Kessler, 69, fell and hit his head and died that night.

Ventury County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko said at a May preliminary hearing that blood found on the megaphone matches Kessler’s DNA. Nasarenko also presented cell phone video Kessler filmed shortly before he fell.

An attorney for Alnaji, a professor of computer science at nearby Moorpark College, said Kessler was the aggressor in the confrontation, and that while he may have been pushed or hit by a megaphone, that’s not what caused his fall.

“It’s clear that when he fell, my client was six to eight feet away from him,” the attorney, Ron Bamieh, said after Alnaji’s arrest..

Alnaji, who remains free on $50,000 bail, is charged with felony involuntary manslaughter, felony battery causing serious bodily injury, and the special allegation — an indication the prosecution believes the defendant deserves greater than usual consequences — that he personally inflicted great bodily injury. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.

The post California man pleads not guilty in November death of pro-Israel protester appeared first on The Forward.