STAR-BULLETIN / MAY 2007
San Diego prosecutors say pro surfer Emery Kauanui Jr., originally from Kauai, died in May after being brutally beaten in La Jolla, Calif.
Gang suspected in surfer’s slaying
A fifth man will turn himself in over the Kauai native's death
DURHAM, N.H. » A college football player charged in the beating death of pro surfer and Kauai native Emery Kauanui Jr. is expected to turn himself in by Monday, police said.
San Diego Police Lt. Kevin Rooney said prosecutors and the lawyer defending Henri "Hank" Hendricks were arranging his surrender to face charges that he was part of a gang that fatally beat Kauanui in May. Before he was suspended yesterday, Hendricks, 21, was a backup quarterback on the University of New Hampshire football team.
Paul Levikow, a spokesman for the San Diego District Attorney's Office, said that in addition to the murder charge, Hendricks will face two assault charges and one battery charge stemming from a separate confrontation at a party on New Year's Eve. Hendricks' bail will be set at $750,000, Levikow said.
Police allege that Hendricks and four other San Diego-area men beat Kauanui at the pro surfer's home in San Diego's La Jolla section on May 24. Kauanui, 24, died several days later.
"He had nothing to do with it," Joe Cox, Hendricks' lawyer, said yesterday of his client.
According to court records cited by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Hendricks described a fight between Kauanui and one of the defendants and then Kauanui being felled, and striking his head, after being punched by a second defendant. Hendricks did not describe being physically involved himself.
Police allege the men are members of a gang known as the Bird Rock Bandits, something defense lawyers deny. According to court documents cited by the newspaper, police accuse the loose-knit group of about a dozen of harassing, intimidating and assaulting numerous people in La Jolla.
Cox said his client has denied being part of the Bird Rock Bandits.
Hendricks is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in San Diego Superior Court on charges of murder, assault and battery.
The others, who face the same charges, are Seth Cravens, 21; Eric House, 20; Orlando Osuna, 22; and Matthew Yanke, 21. All four pleaded innocent at a hearing Tuesday.
Hendricks was not arrested immediately after the beating, but gave a statement to police a few days later. He was not charged until Tuesday.
According to search warrant affidavits, Hendricks told detectives he was with Cravens, House, Yanke and Osuna at a bar the night of May 23 but had left when a confrontation occurred between House and Kauanui. Hendricks told police he and the others left the bar and drove to Kauanui's home, where a second confrontation occurred. He said it ended when Kauanui got punched in the jaw and fell backward, hitting his head.
Rooney said he could not comment on what allegedly happened, but said the fact that prosecutors are treating it as a gang case raises the stakes under California law.
"That brings into it a whole other dimension," he said.
Kauanui, the middle of three brothers, moved to Southern California with his mother, Cindy Kauanui, after Hurricane Iniki in 1992.