Four plead guilty to lesser counts in surfer's death

Mary Ellen Attride
Mary Ellen Attride

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Lesser punishment is in store for four of the five men originally charged with killing professional surfer and Kauai native Emery Kauanui Jr.

Outside his mother's La Jolla, California home, Emery Kauanui Jr was brutally beaten.

Prosecutors call it murder, defense attorneys say it was action not intended.

But still, no one claims responsibility for the slain surfer.

All five men suspected to be involved sit in a San Diego county courtroom. Four of the five enter a plea agreement and now face a less-severe fate.

"I'm extremely sorry for what happened, and I know we all are," said defendant Matthew Yanke.

But still, it was the wrong thing to do and Hank has always known that it was the wrong thing to do," said Richard Gates, Hendrick's attorney.

Matthew Yanke, Eric House and Orlando Osuna each face several years, admitting to involuntary manslaughter. They were there, but defense attorneys say they didn't lead the attack on Emery Kauanui.

"The whole offense was a tragic offense, with Matthew Yanke being present, being somewhat associated, not the catalyst that caused the death," said Kerry Steiger, Yanke's attorney.

"He has cried, he has lost sleep. Mr Kauanui was in fact one of his friends," said Frederick Reich, Osuna's attorney.

In the courtroom sat the fifth defendant Seth Cravens, the man prosecutors say delivered the fatal punch. No apologies, no acknowledgement of any emotions.

His lawyer is maintaining his innocence, she says evidence and witnesses against him are weak. He faces charges of murder and other felonies.

"I don't believe they can prove more than an involuntary manslaughter, and I'm certainly not going to plead him guilty to something that I don't believe," said Mary Ellen Attride, Craven's attorney.

The trial set to begin in August, it will soon be up to a jury to land justice for the 24-year-old surfer they call the Flying Hawaiian.

KHNL News 8 spoke to the victim's mother Friday, she didn't want to comment on the proceedings but did say that the day someone is convicted is the moment she'll begin to heal from the pain and sadness that still surfaces for her son everyday.