I never met Emery Kauanui...hell, I don't even surf. But this story bothers me because a) these kids hang around close to where I live and b) it involves a mindset that is becoming all to prevalent in Southern California.
I stopped by the scene of the crime...outside of the Draper Street condominium where Kauanui was ganged up on and killed. I spent 5 minutes there and at least a dozen local kids came by to pay their respects...a week after Emery's death:
It's unfortunate of course that Emery found himself in the company of such garbage. But he did choose his friends:
Emery with his drinking buddy, alleged-murderer Seth Cravens. Cravens flashes a "gang sign"
Somehow these kids got the brilliant idea that it was cool to act like "gangstas". I'll not be sensitive about this...the gang mentality is idiocy. But these kids were not hardened inner-city youths with nothing else to cling to. In fact one (Eric Yanke) had the means to hire uber-defense attorney Kerry Steigerwalt. This was a lifestyle they chose and cultivated among their "friends".
And they flew under the radar. As it turns out, the police are looking at several assaults the "Bird Rock Bandits" may have been involved in.
LA JOLLA – Four young men charged in the slaying of a professional La Jolla surfer are being investigated in connection with as many as 15 other assaults, San Diego police said.
The investigations began after more than a dozen people called police to report similar assaults upon learning about the fatal beating of Emery Kauanui, homicide Lt. Kevin Rooney said. Police on their own reopened two other dormant cases.
Meanwhile, Judge Jeffrey Fraser has reduced bail for the three "Bandits" who remain in jail (Yanke is out on a $1 million bond). Ordinarily I'd be up in arms about this, except that the bail amounts ($1.2 million to $2 million) are still high enough to dissuade these dirtbags from fleeing if their families raise the funds. Of course their attorneys wanted their bail even lower:
Defense attorneys argued unsuccessfully for much lower bail amounts yesterday, citing their clients' strong ties to the community, family support and lack of criminal history. Some of the lawyers mentioned letters they received from members of the community, some of whom were present in court, who could vouch for the defendants' good character.
"Good character"? You mean like, nice wholesome boys whose pastimes include “getting wasted, partying, surfing and womping?”
House's lawyer, Earll Pott, said he filed 43 letters in court from people who described House as “peaceful,” “caring” and “kind.”
You mean, the kind of "peaceful, caring and kind" guy that would beat and kick a drinking buddy, then leave him to die?
Unfortunately, the remnants of these dweebs who call themselves the "Bird Rock Bandits" still don't get it. On their "myspace" page, they promise more mayhem this summer, pledging a "bloodbath."
It's a good bet that the defense attorneys will not be using the defendant's myspace "friends" as character witnesses.