Three ‘Bird Rock Bandits’ back in jail for probation violation

Three young men who served jail terms for a La Jolla street brawl in which a professional surfer was fatally injured 2 1/2 years ago were back behind bars Thursday for allegedly violating terms of their probation.

Eric House, 22, Orlando Osuna Wright, 24, and Matthew Murray Yanke, 23, were arrested on suspicion of violating court orders forbidding them to contact each other or the family of the victim, 24-year-old Emery Kauanui, Deputy U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo said.

Additionally, Wright and Osuna allegedly tested positive for an undisclosed illegal drug. All three were taken into custody at a probation office in North Park — Wright and Yanke on Monday, House on Tuesday, according to Castillo. They will be held in county jail without bail pending court hearing scheduled for next week.

It was not immediately clear what type of contact the three men may have had with relatives of Kauanui.

A fourth defendant in the high-profile case, Seth Cravens, 23, was convicted of second-degree murder for Kauanui’s death and sentenced to 20 years to life in state prison.

House, Wright, Yanke and a fifth man, Hank Hendricks, 22, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the case and were sentenced to jail terms.

Prosecutors contended that the defendants’ allegiance to a hard-partying group known as the “Bird Rock Bandits” made Kauanui’s death a crime committed by a street gang. Following a preliminary hearing, however, Superior Court Judge John Einhorn rejected that allegation.

The deadly fight in front of the home of Kauanui’s mother erupted on the evening of May 24, 2007, after the victim and House were kicked out of nearby La Jolla Brew House, according to police and prosecutors. The two had gotten into a dispute at the bar when Kauanui spilled a drink on the younger man.

Kauanui was driven home by his girlfriend. Cravens, House, Wright and Yanke followed, and House was egged on to fight the victim, according to court testimony.

During the fight, Kauanui confronted and screamed at Cravens, who responding by throwing what the judge described as a “vicious swing” that connected with the victim’s face. Kauanui fell to the ground and hit his head, suffering a severely fractured skull. He died in a hospital four days later.