Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class (SEAL) Theo Krah got in a fight did have an altercation on June 11 with a man who ended up dead hours later on June 11, his civilian attorney says, but Krah did not killmurder him.
The 28-year-old sailor is being held sitting in Los Angeles County jail following his June 14 arraignment, on charges that he killed a man whom he'd detained earlier for allegedly taking pictures of underage girls at the Santa Monica pier, his lawyer said.
"It's been very much misreported that there was a fight on the pier," Anthony Salerno told Navy Times in a Tuesday phone interview. "None of that occurred. The police report described both of them as being calm when they came up on them."
Krah was on the beach in Santa Monica on that Saturday afternoon of June 11 watching a paddle board competition when he noticed a middle-aged man taking pictures, Salerno said, presumably of underage girls on the beach. Krah drove back to San Diego Saturday afternoon after the competition, Salerno said.
Disturbed, Krah confronted the man, placing him in a "bear hug" and asking for someone to call the police, who showed up a few minutes later, Salerno said.
Officers checked the camera and let the guy go, Salerno said. About an hour later, at 5:06 p.m., he was found lying on the pavement a few blocks from the beach, unconscious and with "substantial" head trauma, according to a June 14 release from the Santa Monica Police Department.
Hospital staff then noticed a stab wound, which the victim died of early the following morning.
SMPD had taken down Krah's name after the earlier call, Salerno said, and used that to focus their investigation.
"I'm sure a lot of people saw this confrontation, because it must have created a scene there," Salerno said, suggesting that some of the bystanders could have been friends or family of the photographed girls. "It was common sense that people get really hot about that."
Krah was arrested the following Monday after returning to San Diego, where officers searched his home, truck and locker at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Salerno said.
The two entered a not guilty plea at Krah's June 15 arraignment, and is being held on $2 million bail.
Salerno said his investigation is focused on getting a hold of the victim's camera and establishing a timeline of that day. In the meantime, he's received an outpouring of support for his client from friends and family.
"I couldn't even keep up with all the character letters that were coming in," he said. "Not just the volume, but just the kinds of things that people said about Theo from the time he was a kid," including a letter from a 14-year-old boy Krah coached in soccer.
"I'm feeling confident that we're going to get him out of this mess and get him back into service, where he belongs," he added.
Krah's next hearing is scheduled for July 13, Salerno said.