UNH quarterback charged with murder

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    UNH quarterback charged with murder
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    University of New Hampshire quarterback Hank Hendricks (far left) prepares to hand the ball off during a scrimmage in this file photo from August 2005.
    Deb Cram photo / File / 2005 By Mike Zhe
    September 07, 2007 2:25 PM
    DURHAM — As the University of New Hampshire football team made its way to Harrisonburg, Va., Friday for the first game of its football season, back-up quarterback Hank Hendricks was en route to his native San Diego, where he’s facing a murder charge.

    Hendricks, 21, was indicted on Thursday in the beating death of a professional surfer, Emery Kauanui Jr., on May 24 in La Jolla, Calif. Four other suspects were previously charged in his death and have pled not guilty.

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    UNH football faces tough test in openerFreshman Hendricks preparing for worst-case scenarioUNH quarterback charged with murder The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Hendricks, who will be in court on Monday to answer charges of murder, assault and battery, was immediately suspended from the football team, school officials said Friday. He had been practicing with the team, which is ranked fifth nationally heading into its game against No. 10 James Madison, all week.

    Calls to the cell phones of UNH coach Sean McDonnell and the school’s sports information director, Scott Stapin, were not immediately returned Friday.

    According to a report published earlier this week in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Hendricks admitted to police he was with the four other defendants at a bar on the night of May 23. He said he had left the bar to take a phone call and go to a nearby store when a fight broke out between one of the other suspects – 20-year-old Eric House — and Kauanui.

    Hendricks, a San Diego native, told police he and the others left the bar and drove to Kauanui's home in La Jolla, where another fight broke out. Kauanui was eventually transported to a hospital, where he died a few days later.

    According to the Union-Tribune, Hendricks gave a statement to police on May 29, where he said he saw defendant Seth Cravens, 21, hit Kauanui in the jaw, causing his head to fall back and strike something.

    If convicted of murder, the five suspects will face jail terms of 25 years to life.

    Police are alleging that Hendricks and the four other suspects are members of an affiliated group of men known as the “Bird Rock Bandits,” which is suspected in other assaults in the area in recent months. All five were also charged with assault and battery in this incident.

    Hendricks was one of seven native Californians on the Wildcats’ roster. The UNH program, particularly former offensive coordinator Chip Kelly, has recruited aggressively in that state in recent years.

    It wasn’t known whether Hendricks was one of the roughly 60 football players who spent the summer months on campus. Most UNH players stay in the area year-round, but do take occasional weekend or weeklong trips home.

    At La Jolla High School, Hendricks became friendly with Alexa Flutie, a cheerleader who was dating his younger brother, Nick, and whose father, Doug, was winding down his pro career as a back-up quarterback with the San Diego Chargers.

    On some days, Flutie would drop by the field to check out practice, and the two quarterbacks struck up a relationship. It was Flutie who, after learning Hendricks had not drawn much recruiting interest, dropped his name to Kelly.

    After taking some courses at a local community college in the fall of 2004, Hendricks arrived at UNH with a scholarship in January of 2005.

    Hendricks served as the back-up to All-American quarterback Ricky Santos in 2004 and ’05, getting into a handful of games and completing 14-of-18 passes for 119 yards. But he was overtaken by redshirt freshman R.J. Toman and was listed as the third-string quarterback at the time of his arrest, behind Santos and Toman.

    His role also includes holding the ball on field-goal and extra-point tries. It is unclear who will perform that role on Saturday.

    The UNH contingent was scheduled to fly into Baltimore Friday afternoon, and then bus to James Madison, which is about 2½ hours away. The team was also planning to stop at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., to hold a practice, Stapin said.

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