Professor charged with death of Jewish man at SoCal protests to stand trial

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - NOVEMBER 7, 2023 - Jonathan Oswald, center, wipes the sweat from his face, while talking about what he witnessed at last Sundays Israel-Hamas duel protests at a growing memorial for Paul Kessler at the corner of S. Westlake Blvd.

The professor charged with manslaughter in the death of an elderly Jewish man at dueling Israel-Palestine protests in Thousand Oaks last year will stand trial, a judge announced Wednesday.

Loay Alnaji has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, battery and personal injury related to the death of Paul Kessler in November 2023.

Kessler died after he was hit in the head with a megaphone at contentious dueling rallies between pro-Palestine and pro-Israel demonstrators. He then hit his head again as he fell. It happened on Nov. 5, 2023. Deputies were called to the intersection of Thousand Oaks and Westlake boulevards and found Kessler on the ground, conscious but bleeding from his head. Paramedics brought Kessler to the hospital, where he died the following day. 

Deputies arrested Alnaji on Nov. 16. Alnaji pleaded not guilty.


Alnaji is accused of hitting Kessler with the megaphone, which sent Kessler to the ground. In a preliminary hearing this week, prosecutors presented evidence, including Kessler's DNA on the front of the megaphone and video from Kessler's cellphone, showing the moments before he was hit. 

Back in November, Alnaji's lawyer told FOX 11 that he had videos showing his client was not near Kessler when the 69-year-old fell and hit his head.

At the end of the two-day hearing, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Ryan Wright ruled Wednesday that there was sufficient evidence in the case for Alnaji to stand trial. Alnaji faces four years in prison if he is convicted on all charges. Another arraignment is scheduled for June 10.