DA’s investigator says Bird Rock Bandits a street gang

By Dana Littlefield
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

7:08 p.m. May 15, 2008

SAN DIEGO – An investigator who once monitored long-established gangs in south San Diego testified Thursday that he considers a group known as the Bird Rock Bandits a street gang.

David Soliven, an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office, also said he believes that the five men charged in the death of a professional surfer in La Jolla last year are members of the group.

On the sixth day of a San Diego Superior Court hearing, Soliven cited evidence collected in searches and interviews as support for his conclusions. He noted that the Bird Rock Bandits had a common name and hand signals, which are considered gang characteristics.

However, defense lawyer Mary Ellen Attridge pointed out that other people – including President Bush and fans of the Texas Longhorns – have been photographed making a similar hand gesture.

She noted that the colors the investigator said indicated an association between the Bird Rock Bandits and the Hells Angels were also the colors of La Jolla High School.

Seth Cravens, 22; Eric House, 21; Orlando Osuna, 23; Matthew Yanke, 21; and Henri “Hank” Hendricks, 22, were arrested last year in connection with the death of Emery Kauanui Jr., 24, who cracked his skull when he fought with others outside his La Jolla home on May 24.

He died at a hospital four days later.

The defendants in the case are all La Jolla High School graduates. They face charges including murder, assault and battery.

Thursday morning, Judge John Einhorn, who is presiding over the preliminary hearing, said he was concerned about a discrepancy between two transcripts of an interview with a witness.

In the transcript created by the Public Defender’s Office, the witness tells an investigator he spoke to Kauanui by phone shortly before the fight. He said Kauanui told him: “I got people at my house, I’m gonna kill ’em.”

The statement is not included a transcript created by the District Attorney’s Office.

The judge said he listened to a recording of the interview and heard the phrase “I’m gonna kill ’em.”

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