Friday, May 01, 2009
NBC Dateline: The Surfer and the Bird Rock Bandits"
Tonight, May 1, NBC Dateline aired a two-hour stint, “The Surfer & The Bird Rock Bandits” about a brutal beating death in the upper income beach community of La Jolla, CA, about 100 miles from The O.C. The main page for the show is this.
ABC had aired a story about this May 13, 2008 by David Muir and others, link here.
Surfer Emery Kauanui Jr. was killed by a blow to the head and beating by Seth Cravens, and possibly four other your men (Eric House, 21, Orlando Osuna, 23, Matthew Yanke, 21, and Henri "Hank" Hendricks, 22) in May 2007, after following Emery to his home after a brawl in a bar. Kauanui died four days after the beating of brain swelling; he was conscious and speaking near the end, even as priests told his mother “he belongs to the Lord”.
Some of the bandit members had bragged about their wild activities on social networking sites on the Internet.
The show focuses on two court proceedings. The first concerned the four accessories, whom the prosecutions wanted to nail with California’s anti-gang law passed in the late 1980s. Everyone was shocked that the young men came from well-to-do families and “had it all”. But they plea-bargained and got probation and time served.
Cravens was tried for “implied consent” second degree murder, and turning down a plea bargain for manslaughter. There was plenty of courtroom drama. There was even a fracas between the two female attorneys. The jury was almost hung at 11-1, and deliberated 8 more days to get a conviction for second degree murder. He was sentenced to 20 years to life.
The San Diego Police Department now tracks the Bird Rock Bandits as a criminal street gang, even though it was almost silly at the outset.
Gang activity in many cities is tied to drug cartels (as often reported by Anderson Cooper and others) but there was no evidence of that for this gang.
A particularly brutal and senseless murder in the Lansdowne section of Loudoun County, Virginia was apparently gang-related and possibly random, as in this story on NBC4 about the arrest.
Attribution page for the Wikimedia Commons picture of San Diego’s skyline is here.
I visited the area in February 2002.
Update: May 2, 2009
Here is a Yahoo!/AP reference on the Pottsville, PA hate crime trial in the beating of an immigrant by white men, story by Michael Rubinkam, link here. The all white jury found the teens not guilty. I think that NBC Dateline's timing in airing the Bird Rock beating show was still just a coincidence.