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Demonstrator to stand trial in the death of Jewish man at November Israel-Hamas war-related protest

Written by on May 16, 2024

A person places flowers at a makeshift memorial at the site of an altercation between 69-year-old Paul Kessler, who was Jewish, and pro-Palestinian protester on Nov. 7, 2023, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) — A Ventura County judge ruled that a pro-Palestinian demonstrator will stand trial in the death of a Jewish man who was counter-protesting on a Thousand Oaks street in November.

Paul Kessler, a 69-year-old Jewish man, died from blunt-force head trauma following a confrontation with a counterprotester, amid simultaneous pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations last November, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office previously said. Loay Abdel Fattah Alnaji is accused of striking Paul Kessler with a megaphone, causing him to fall and hit his head on the pavement.

The Ventura County Medical Examiner ruled that Kessler died from blunt force trauma caused by the blow from the megaphone and the subsequent fall.

Alnaji was charged in November with involuntary manslaughter, battery causing serious bodily injury and special allegations of personally inflicting great bodily injury.

At his arraignment last fall, Alnaji pled not guilty to the charges.

A Ventura County Superior Court judge made the decision that Alnaji would face trial after a recent two-day preliminary hearing that saw 18 witnesses testify.

Authorities are continuing to investigate. The Ventura County DA’s office said it has not found evidence to support a hate crime.

Alnaji was released on $50,000 bail.

If convicted on all charges, he faces a maximum of four years in prison.

A lawyer for Alnaji couldn’t immediately be reached for comment by ABC News.

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