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 SAN DIEGO (AP) - A New Hampshire football player pleaded not guilty Monday to murder, assault and other charges in connection with the beating death of a professional surfer.
Henri ``Hank'' Hendricks, 21, is accused of being part of a gang that fatally beat Emery Kauanui Jr., Hawaii in the La Jolla section of San Diego on May 24.
Four other San Diego-area men were charged days after Kauanui's death. Hendricks, not initially identified as a suspect, was charged last week.
During Hendricks' court appearance Monday, Deputy District Attorney Sophia Roach sought to raise bail from $750,000 to $2 million, arguing the player was a dangerous person who has been involved in two separate group attacks, including one at a party on New Year's Eve.
Hendricks was part of a group that made a plan to attack Kauanui, then followed the surfer to his mother's condominium after a bar fight, Roach said. During the attack, Hendricks pushed away a witness who tried to stop the fight, she added.
``Mr. Hendricks is not different from the rest of these defendants,'' she said. ``It was a group action. It was not his first time.''
Deputy Public Defender Richard Gates told a Superior Court judge that Hendricks wasn't directly involved in Kauanui's death.
``This young man is in the periphery of the real action in this case,'' Gates said.
Superior Court Judge John S. Einhorn reduced Hendrick's bail to $500,000 and ordered him to return to court Friday.
Hendricks, a backup quarterback who was suspended by the football team last week, is accused of associating with a hard-partying gang known as the Bird Rock Bandits. Police accuse the loose-knit group, that consists of about a dozen young men, of harassing, intimidating and assaulting numerous people in La Jolla.
The other defendants in the case are Seth Cravens, 21; Eric House, 20; Orlando Osuna, 22 and Matthew Yanke, 21. All have pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges.
According to court papers, Hendricks told police he had left the bar to take a phone call and go to a store when the confrontation occurred between House and Kauanui.
Hendricks said he and the others then left the bar and drove to Kauanui's home, where the second fight occurred. He said he pushed Kauanui's girlfriend, who was kicking House. Hendricks also stated that Cravens hit Kauanui in the jaw and that Kauanui fell back, hitting his head.
He died in a hospital four days later
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