Paul Taylor Konen, 34, had been free on $30,000 bond, but was remanded immediately into custody after San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert Trentacosta pronounced sentence.
The victim, Kevin Eslinger, 56, of Point Loma, told the judge how the injury resulted in brain damage after Konen struck him in the head with a 7-foot paddleboard while both were surfing off Sunset Cliffs on June 26, 2018.
Eslinger said the brain damage causes him to slur his words and he was hard to understand at times. He consulted with a speech therapist, who told him he may not be able to improve his speech.
Eslinger is a swim coach at both Heartland Swimming Association and El Cajon Valley High School.
“He had to learn how to speak again,” said Deputy District Attorney Matthew Greco.
“Today is a good day for the surfing community,” said Greco outside the courtroom. “People will be held accountable for assaultive behavior.”
During the trial, Greco referred to Konen as “the bully on the beach.”
“This wasn’t an accident. Nowhere is there remorse,” said Greco to the judge. “Never does he say he’s sorry. The inability to show empathy is really telling.”
Trentacosta said Konen doesn’t understand his own actions and said he used a 7-foot paddle as a weapon.
Trentacosta imposed two years for the felony assault charge plus three years consecutively for causing great bodily injury to Eslinger.
Konen’s attorney, Brian McCarthy, asked for a sentence Konen could serve in a work furlough facility. McCarthy said Konen worked at a warehouse and had already been screened for the work furlough program in which he could go to work during the day, but be incarcerated at night.
“He’s not a violent person or a danger to society,” said McCarthy, who said he had no criminal record.
McCarthy asked the judge to declare the case unusual which would allow him to grant Konen probation. The judge declined to do that.
A woman believed to be a close relative sobbed upon learning he was going to prison. She and other family members quickly left with McCarthy without making comment.
The judge gave Konen credit for serving one day in jail before posting bond. He said a restitution hearing would be set within 90 days to determine if Konen should pay for Eslinger’s medical expenses that were not covered by insurance.
A jury convicted Konen April 18 of assault with a deadly weapon and causing great bodily injuries after deliberating 11 hours over three days.
His attorney argued the blow to the head by the paddleboard was an accident. Konen did not say anything before he was sentenced.
Eslinger said he briefly went unconscious in the water, but his wife, Janae Eslinger, got him to a hospital for a long bloody gash from the top of his car towards his ear.
“Two lives were irrevocably changed, but I feel justice was done,” said Eslinger afterwards.
Janae Eslinger said the impact will affect the couple the rest of their lives.
Konen could have been sentenced to a maximum 7-year term.