UNH quarterback pleads ‘not guilty’ in murder trial

By The New Hampshire Staff Report

DURHAM, N.H. – Recently suspended University of New Hampshire football player Henri “Hank” Hendricks, 21, pleaded not guilty Monday to a murder charge in connection with the May 24 beating death of professional surfer Emery Kauanui.

Hendricks, a backup quarterback, was arraigned Monday in San Diego Superior Court. He was suspended Friday from the UNH football team, according to a press release from the University of New Hampshire.

His bail was set at $500,000 and as of Monday night, he had not yet posted bail but was expected to do so, according to San Diego District Attorney’s Office Communications Director Paul Levikow. Reports from the Associated Press indicate that bail was originally set at $750,000, while prosecutor Sophia Roach had requested that bail be set at $2 million.

Hendricks also pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and battery from an incident on New Year’s Eve.

Shock and disbelief have taken hold of UNH students.

“It’s hard because you don’t know how much involvement there was from each person related to the case, like who threw the most punches. There’s no way to know. It’s just sad,” said junior Caitlin Arturi.

One female student close to Hendricks who did not want to be identified said, “He is a great guy, and I’m sure his name is going to be cleared.”

Students across campus are reacting to the charges, whether they knew Hendricks or not.

“It’s pretty horrible to think that someone at our school could possibly commit such a violent and senseless act,” said junior Mike Violandi.

UNH spokesperson Kim Billings said due to federal student policy laws, she couldn’t comment specifically on Hendricks’ case, but that she could speak to a typical university policy regarding legal charges.

“Students who have been charged with a felony as serious as murder are suspended interim from the university,” said Billings in a telephone interview Monday afternoon. “We have to wait until due process is served and see the outcome of the trial first.”

Seth Cravens, 21; Eric House, 20; Orlando Osuna, 22; and Matthew Yanke, 21, are also charged with murder, assault and battery. According to San Diego Police search warrant affidavits, the men attacked Kauanui, a pro surfer from San Diego. The incident came following a bar fight earlier that evening. All of the men charged, including Hendricks, are associated with a local surf gang that refers to itself as the “Bird Rock Bandits,” said Levikow.

According to the police affidavits, Kauanui spilled a drink on House, who was dancing with Kauanui’s ex-girlfriend at a local San Diego bar. The affidavits state that the men began fighting and were kicked out of the bar.

According to Hendricks’ statement to the police, he had arrived home in San Diego on the night of May 23 for summer break, and he went out to the bar with the group of men. After they were kicked out, Hendricks went with the four other men to Kauanui’s house.

Kauanui came outside and began fighting with House, and the other men quickly became involved, police affidavits show. Allegedly, all five assaulted Kauanui, and Cravens delivered a blow to his jaw that knocked him to the ground. Hendricks, Craven, Yanke and Osuna fled the scene.

According to the search warrant affidavits, Kauanui was conscious when the paramedics arrived, but he was bleeding from the back of his head. He died four days later from massive head injuries that he received during the fight.

On Friday, Hendricks traveled back to California for his arraignment on Monday. Hendricks was the last of the five men charged with murder in the case.

Hendricks attended La Jolla High School, along with the other four men charged in the case.