Judge sends Bird Rock bandits to prison, tells them ‘You guys blew it’
Three members of a La Jolla party crew, who served time for involuntary manslaughter in the beating death of a professional surfer, were each sentenced Friday to three years in state prison for violating probation.
Eric House, 22, Orlando Osuna Wright, 24, and Matthew Yanke, 23, admitted being in each other’s company and failing drug tests.
“You guys blew it,” Judge John Einhorn told the defendants. “I’m done being your cheerleader. What a sad ending to senseless conduct.’'
Einhorn reminded the trio that they got the “break of a lifetime” when they were allowed to plead guilty in June 2008 to involuntary manslaughter in the death a year earlier of 24-year-old Emery Kauanui of La Jolla.
At the time, the judge told them to “do the right thing” and comply with probation for the sake of their family and friends.
Co-defendant Hank Hendricks also pleaded guilty in June 2008 to pleaded guilty in June 2008 to being an accessory after the fact. He was not involved in any of the probation violation cases.
A fifth man, Seth Cravens, 23, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years to life in state prison.
Yanke, Osuna and House — members of the “Bird Rock Bandits’” — were arrested last month for violating court orders imposed on them at sentencing.
The defendants’ current violations were “significant,” the judge said.
In a tearful apology, Yanke said he took his probation “very seriously” and sought help when he started to feel himself slip.
“I worried about going to prison, at times flat-out scared,” he said.
House admitted testing positive for marijuana and having his photo taken with Yanke at the Viejas Casino.
Osuna admitted testing positive for marijuana nine times since April, and Einhorn found that the defendant also violated probation by attending a function at a bar and being in the presence of Yanke.
Osuna told the judge Friday that he tried, but failed, to comply with probation.
“I’m ashamed,’' Osuna said. “You gave me a good judgment on my sentence. I did not follow my conditions of probation. I’m sorry for the anguish I’ve caused again.’'
Osuna said he should have moved out of town after his original sentence, but stayed because he needed his family’s support.
Prosecutors contended the defendants’ allegiance to the “Bird Rock Bandits” made Kauanui’s death a crime committed by a street gang, but Einhorn previously 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.