Bail reduced for men charged in fatal beating of pro surfer

A state judge has reduced bail for three of four men charged with murder in the fatal beating of a Hawaiian pro surfer.

Emery Kauanui, Jr., of Kaua‘i, died May 28 after he was beaten in the upscale La Jolla area of San Diego. He was 24.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser cut bail amounts on Thursday to range from $1.2 million to $2 million for three defendants who remain in county jail. The men had been held on bail amounts ranging from $1.5 million to $2.5 million.

A fourth man was free on $1 million bond.

Defense attorneys argued for much lower bail amounts, citing their clients’ strong ties to the community, family support and lack of criminal history.

Prosecutors have said in court that the men, allegedly part of a group called the Bird Rock Bandits, punched and kicked Kauanui on May 24 after an argument at a local pub and left him bleeding outside the home where he lived with his mother. He died from brain injuries four days later.

All four defendants face possible life sentences if convicted.

Two memorial services are planned for next Saturday and Sunday in Kauanui’s honor.

Kauanui’s mother, Cindy, has organized a memorial on Father’s Day, June 17, at Prince Kuhio Park. A paddle-out and scattering of ashes at Shipwrecks Beach will follow at 3 p.m.

“He didn’t deserve anything that happened to him and I want to give him honor,” she said, adding that she selected the day because “he is now with his heavenly Father” and the spot because his middle name, Kealiikane, means “royal prince.”

Cindy Kauanui said that her son was a “heart-and-soul Kauaian,” who was loved by many. On-island, a surf spot was even named after him.

She raised her sons in Koloa up until Hurricane ‘Iniki hit in 1992, at which point the family moved to Southern California. The boys returned to Kaua‘i annually throughout their teens, staying with their grandmother in Anahola during extended visits.

The president and chief executive officer of modeling agency Jet Set Management Group Inc., Cindy Kauanui said she and Kauanui had future plans of moving back to Kaua‘i, where he hoped to open a sushi restaurant.

Following his death, their California bank, Wells Fargo, stepped forward to create a memorial fund in Kauanui’s honor. Cindy Kauanui said donations have poured in from family members, friends and the surfing community.

The fund will go toward realizing Kauanui’s dream of starting a surf camp for kids age 14 and under.

“It’s not just that he was a good surfer,” Cindy Kauanui said of her son, “he was a great person.”

To donate to the fund, checks made payable to “Emery Kauanui Junior Memorial Fund” can be mailed to: P.O. Box 2302, La Jolla, CA 92038. Anonymous donations can be sent to: Emery Kauanui Junior Memorial Fund, Wells Fargo Bank, 7714 Girard Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037.

For more information, e-mail Sharon Shomaker at sharon@jetsetmodels.com.

Memories of Kauanui can be shared by e-mailing emery@jetsetmodels.com.

Another tribute and paddle-out is planned by his father, Emery Kauanui Sr., June 16, at 3 p.m., in Anahola.

• Blake Jones, business reporter, contributed to this report.

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