Pro skateboarder Terry Kennedy acquitted of murdering Wheaton man, convicted of battery

Professional skateboarder Terry Kennedy was acquitted Friday of charges he murdered a Wheaton man by punching him in the head.

He was, however, found guilty of two counts of aggravated battery.

DuPage County Judge Michael Reidy issued a written ruling. The bench trial took place in late September.

Kennedy, 37, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Josiah Kassahun. Prosecutors said Kennedy punched Kassahun in the head in the parking lot of an Oakbrook Terrace hotel on July 27, 2021. Kassahun fell, striking his head on the pavement.

Kennedy also kicked Kassahun as he lay on the ground, prosecutors said.

Kassahun had internal injuries, a fractured skull, a broken orbital bone and bleeding on his brain. He underwent emergency surgery but died four days later.

At the time, Kennedy, who lives in Long Beach, California, was visiting his girlfriend. He and Kassahun became friends, as Kassahun was a skateboarding fan.

The three stayed at the hotel the night of July 26. In the morning, the girlfriend was supposed to drive Kennedy to an airport to fly home. She testified that she changed her mind, believing she was unfit to drive safely after drinking the night before and possibly in the morning.

When she and Kennedy argued, Kassahun told Kennedy to "calm down," and the men got out of the car.

Kennedy then punched Kassahun, prosecutors said.

Kennedy's lawyers argued that to be convicted of murder, prosecutors had to prove that Kennedy had to know beforehand that throwing a single punch "created a strong probability" of causing death or great bodily harm, per the charge.

He remains in the DuPage County jail, awaiting sentencing on the aggravated battery convictions.

Kennedy has appeared in several MTV shows, skateboarding video games and a music video for Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" song. He also co-founded the Fly Society clothing and music brand.

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