Pub talk turns to another surfer who was attacked and this poor soul died. But it was not another shark attack. This time it was one or more persons who apparently killed Emery Kauanui Jr., a professional surfer. The initial arraignment for those charged was scheduled for Sept. 10.
Allegedly, four young men who the press have apparently labeled the Bird Rock Bandits (a local gang or group of friends depending on who you talk to) were accused of being responsible for the beating of Emery Kauanui Jr. on May 24 in La Jolla. Kauanui, 24, apparently died four days after the fight on May 28. Seth Cravens, 21; Eric House, 20; Matthew Yanke, 21; and Orlando Osuna, 22, are all initially charged in connection with the beating. All have pleaded not guilty. Initially, Kauanui and Eric House fought. But Seth Cravens apparently delivered the fatal blow to Kauanui after the fight between Kauanui and House had apparently ended.
The dispute began back at a night club. Genny Grosso, was an ex girl friend of Emery. She apparently asks him to go to the bar. When he does,Genny speaks to Eric House. Emery apparently got jealous and spilled a beer on Eric. (Whether it was intentional or accidental as reported by NBCSandiego.com is disputed.) The two young men are thrown out of the bar.
Kauanui left the club and was driven home by Genny. Cravens, Osuna, House and Yanke apparently followed Kauanui to his home. (Emery apparently called House or visa versa. Either way, a fight was arranged.)
When House arrived, he was encouraged to fight Kauanui. Kauanui came out of the house and by most accounts, Emery Kauanui beat Eric House in the fight. House lost one of his teeth. The fight apparently was over at that point. Hank Hendricks may have pulled Genny off of Kauanui and House when they were on the ground. Apparently as Kauanui and House were getting up off the ground, Cravens punched Kauanui. According to witnesses, the punch from Cravens apparently knocked Emery Kauanui into a tree. (Cravens has a reputation of being a real strong guy with a devastating punch.) Four of the young men left the scene. House remained at the scene looking for his tooth. Kauanui was taken to a hospital where it was initially thought that he would be okay. Unfortunately, Emery Kauanui's condition deteriorated and he died four days later. Criminal cases are still pending against all five young men. All but one of the five charged is out on bond. All five have plead not guilty.
Update 5-20-08 Preliminary hearings are determining whether there is enough evidence to try these young men as a gang. The comments below contain summaries of some of the testimony. Cravens may have been the only "gang want to be."
Update 6-21-08: Judge Einhorn decided on May 22, 2008 that these five did not constitute a criminal street gang. Like it or not, he is not going to change his mind. These five will be tried as individuals and not as a gang.
Legal Pub reminds everyone that all suspects are innocent until proven guilty. Until there is a trial, no one knows who, if anyone, is guilty.
Update 6-30-08: Eric House, 21; Orlando Osuna, 23; and Matthew Yanke, 21; plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and misdemeanor battery. Henri "Hank" Hendricks, 22, plead guilty to a felony of being an accessory after the fact. It is believed that the charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor. Seth Cravens, 22, re-entered a not-guilty plea after his attorney rejected a plea offer from prosecutors. Back in May, Judge Einhorn found the men could not be prosecuted under gang statutes because the group wasn't formed specifically to commit crimes.
May these young men learn from their mistakes and may Emery R.I.P.
Update 9-6-08: Co-defendants, Eric Matthew House, left, Hank Hendricks and Orlando Sandoval Osuna were sentenced on Friday, Sept. 5, 2008 in San Diego. The four have been sentenced to between 90 and 349 days in jail for their respective roles in the death of Emery Kauanui. Hank Hendricks sentence was the least do to his limited role. He will spend up to 90 days in jail. Hopefully these young men grow from this awful experience and that Emery Kauanui's death serves to educate others about the senselessness of violence.
Update 11-7-08: Mary Ellen Attridge, Cravens attorney argued that there was no evidence that the right-handed Cravens knew that one punch with his left hand could kill someone. Deputy District Attorney Sophia Roach argued that there was evidence of a group beating. She argued there was some evidence of kicking and hitting, that culminated in Kauanui being hit by "an incredibly forceful blow" to the head. Cravens is charged with voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter. Closing arguments were held today.
Update November 18, 2008: Superior Court Judge John Einhorn read the jury's guilty verdict for most of the charges against Seth Cravens, including 2nd degree murder. Cravens will next appear at a sentencing hearing scheduled for January 12, 2009.