‘Bird Rock Bandits’ to be sentenced today


Sentencing is scheduled Friday for three young men who admitted violating terms of their probation after serving jail terms for their involvement in a La Jolla street brawl in which a professional surfer died.

At a court hearing last month, Eric House, 22, Orlando Osuna Wright, 24, and Matthew Yanke, 23, told Judge John Einhorn that they violated probation by being in each other’s company and failing drug tests.

House faces up to four years in prison, while Osuna Wright and Yanke each face 4 1/2 years behind bars.

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 sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

Yanke, Osuna Wright and House — members of the so-called “Bird Rock Bandits” — were arrested last month for violating court orders imposed on them at sentencing.

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’’ into the victim’s face. Kauanui fell backward and hit his head, suffering a severely fractured skull. He died four days later at a hospital.