Civil trial starts this week in stabbing death of Saddleback College student at local pub

Shayan Mazroei (center) with his parents Shahzad Mazroei (left) and Hamid (right) Mazroei (Saddleback.edu)

Shayan Mazroei (center) with his parents Shahzad Mazroei (left) and Hamid (right) Mazroei (Courtesy of Saddleback College)

Jury selection began Tuesday in the wrongful death trial of Craig Matthew Tanber, 37, of Los Alamitos, in the stabbing death of Shayan Mazroei, 22, at Patsy’s Restaurant and Irish Pub in Laguna Niguel on Sept. 7, 2015.

Tanber, a third-striker and member of white supremacist gang Public Enemy Number 1, was charged with one felony count of murder with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a knife and prior strike convictions for voluntary manslaughter, dissuading a witness by force, street terrorism, assault with a deadly weapon in 2007, residential burglary in 2001, and serving a prison term for one year or more and not remaining free for more than five years.

Tanber was originally charged with murder, along with eight other members of Public Enemy Number 1,  in the 2004 killing of 26-year-old Cory Lamons of Laguna Niguel, who was beaten to death with a claw hammer. A mistrial was declared in that case because an alternate juror Googled information about a co-defendant and shared what he learned with other jurors. The mistrial allowed Tanber to plead guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter for the crime and he was sentenced to 13 years in prison. 

Craig Tanbur booking photo (Orange County Sheriff's Department)

Craig Tanbur booking photo. (Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

If Tanber had been convicted of the original charge of special circumstances murder, he would have most likely been in prison for life without the possibility of parole. Tanber was released from prison on June 13 and had been on parole for only three months prior to the Patsy’s stabbing.

Defendants in the civil trial include Tanber, Elizabeth Thornburg -who reportedly helped Tanber flee the scene- Patsy’s Pub and pub security guard Mark Fillingham.

According to the complaint, Mazroei was approached by Thornburg without provocation, made racist statements about Iranian-Americans and Mazroei, threatened him, spat on him and called him a “terrorist”.  Fillingham relocated Tanber and Thornburg to an outside patio after being alerted to the harassment by Mazroei.

Even though Tanber threatened to kill Mazroei in Fillingham’s presence, he left the couple unsupervised, instead of removing them from the premises or contacting local law enforcement. Tanber allegedly assaulted and killed Mazroei shortly thereafter.

The civil trial will take place in Orange Superior Court, Civil Justice Center, Room C32, 700 Civic Center Dr. West in Santa Ana.

The Mazroei family has established the Shayan Mazroei Memorial Endowment Scholarship Fund which will be awarded to two Saddleback College students each year who are doing exceptional work in the community. Donations to the fund are welcomed through the fund’s website.

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