Three Admit Violating Probation In ‘Bird Rock Bandit’ Case
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Three young men who served jail terms for a La Jolla street brawl in which a professional surfer died admitted today that they violated terms of probation by testing positive for marijuana and being in each other's company.
Eric House, 22, Orlando Osuna Wright, 24, and Matthew Yanke, 23, were ordered to remain in custody without bail pending sentencing on Jan. 22.
The three -- along with co-defendant Hank Hendricks -- pleaded guilty in June 2008 to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death a year earlier of 24-year-old Emery Kauanui.
A fifth man, Seth Cravens, 23, was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Yanke, Osuna Wright and House, members of the so-called "Bird Rock Bandits," were arrested last week on charges of violating court orders imposed on them at sentencing.
Judge John Einhorn revoked the defendants' probation after they admitted certain violations.
Yanke admitted being in the presence of Osuna, House and Kauanui's girlfriend, Jennifer Grosso, and testing positive for marijuana.
House admitted testing positive for marijuana and having his photo taken with Yanke at the Viejas Casino. House's attorney said his client did not post the photo on Facebook.
Osuna Wright admitted testing positive for marijuana on multiple occasions since April, but would not admit violating other terms of probation.
Prosecutors contended the defendants' allegiance to the hard-partying "Bird Rock Bandits'' made Kauanui's death a crime committed by a street gang, but Einhorn rejected that allegation.
The deadly fight in front of the home of Kauanui's mother erupted the night of May 24, 2007, after the victim and House were kicked out of the La Jolla Brew House. The two had gotten into a dispute at the bar when Kauanui spilled a drink on House.
Kauanui was driven home by his girlfriend. Cravens, House, Wright and Yanke followed, and House was egged on to fight the victim, according to testimony.
During the fight, Kauanui confronted Cravens, who responded by throwing what the judge described as a "vicious swing'' that connected with the victim's face. Kauanui fell backward and hit his head, suffering a severely fractured skull. He died four days later at a hospital.