'You've Lost My Trust': Judge

Three men involved in a San Diego surfer's death will share a cellblock over the holidays

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCSanDiego.com
    (L to R) Yanke, Osuna Wright, and House.

    They were once given probation in the beating death of a local surfer. On Tuesday, three men faced the judge who gave them that second chance and admitted to violating their probation.

    As a result, Judge John Einhorn denied their request to spend the holidays at home and sent them to jail until their next court hearing.

    Orlando Osuna Wright, Matthew Yanke and Eric House were arrested last week after violating Judge Einhorn's order that they not associate with each other and after testing positive for drug use in probation samples.

    All three pleaded guilty in a vicious crime in the wealthy ocean-front community of La Jolla. The victim was Emery Kauanui, a 24-year-old professional surfer, who knew his attackers.

    Seth Cravens threw the fatal punch in that drunken street fight, which happened more than two years ago. Cravens was convicted of second-degree murder, and is serving 20 years to life.

    The four other alleged "Bird Rock Bandits" pleaded guilty, and got much lighter sentences in county jail. At the time, Judge Einhorn ordered Wright, Yanke and House to behave themselves, or suffer the consequences.

    In court Tuesday, defense attorneys pleaded their case to the judge. House's attorney asked that his client be allowed to return to his family for the holidays explaining that House had been employed until he was laid off in September and has passed repeat inspections of his home by probation staff. House admitted to violating conditions on one of five or six drug screenings by probation.

    Osuna Wright's attorney described how her client was arrested right before finals and that if he were released, he could make up his school work before January 1. Her client was working 30 to 35 hours a week and spending weekends working for another attorney to help pay legal fees for his last case. He also admitted marijuana use during his probation.

    As for Yanke, he admitted to all allegations in court but his attorney Kerry Steigerwalt, discussed the violations outside court and described them as minor.

    “They’re serious, of course they’re serious, but they could be much more serious,” said Steigerwalt.

    His client tested positive for marijuana use in one of more than nine samples taken.

    In explaining the reasoning for the infraction, Steigerwalt described a man who was having difficulty handling the attention received by being a "former alleged Bird Rock Bandit."

    Yanke has had difficulty with jobs and interacting with people, according to his attorney. He met with his aunts and cried with them because he felt himself losing the ability to function in society the way he once could.

    “It’s not easy. It’s not a piece of cake to be a perfect citizen,” said Steigerwalt.

    However, Steigerwalt stopped at claiming his client was a victim. He said Yanke felt the problems coming on but should've taken action before action was taken for him.

    “He’d better [approach the judge] with hat in hand saying you know, you trusted me and I think I let you down on that trust,” said Steigerwalt.

    Prosecutor Sophia Roach said that the defendants were not accused of attempting to contact the victim's family as previously reported by several news outlets.

    She said probation violations are very common.

    On January 22, another hearing is scheduled to determine which rules were violated. The judge is expected to sentence the men on that date.