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Judge rules evidence supports a trial for a man in the death of a Jewish protester in Ventura County

A memorial on Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Westlake Village for Paul Kessler, who was fatally injured during a confrontation during two opposing Mideast demonstrations November 5.
A memorial on Thousand Oaks boulevard for Paul Kessler, who was fatally injured in a confrontation during two opposing Mideast demonstrations in November.

18 witnesses testified in two-day long preliminary hearing. Prosecutors say evidence supports theory man was struck with a megaphone.

A judge has ruled there is enough evidence for a man to stand trial in a death as a result of conflicting Mideast protests in Ventura County.

It happened on November 5, 2023, in Westlake Village. A pro-Palestinian and a pro-Israeli demonstrator had a confrontation at the corner of Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Westlake Boulevard.

The head of one of the protesters, Paul Kessler, hit the ground, and the 69-year-old Jewish man later died at a hospital.

Ventura County Sheriff’s detectives tried to determine if he had been bumped, pushed, or struck by the pro-Palestinian demonstrator involved in the confrontation

During a two day long court hearing, prosecutors presented information supporting their contention that Loay Alnaji had struck Kessler with a megaphone. They say there was blood on the front of the megaphone.

At the time of the confrontation, Alnaji was a computer science professor at Moorpark College.

He’s been charged with involuntary manslaughter, and two other related charges. However, prosecutors say there is no evidence to support hate crime charges in connection with the death.

Alnaji has pled not guilty to the charges, and is set to appear in court next on June 10.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.