Craig Tanber is considered armed and dangerous. Photo courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department

A 37-year-old member of a prominent Orange County white supremacist gang was charged Monday with murder in the fatal stabbing of another man in a Laguna Niguel bar fight this month.

Craig Matthew Tanber got into a fight “over a girl” at Patsy’s Irish Pub in Laguna Niguel just after midnight Sept. 8, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin. He is accused of fatally stabbing 22-year-old Shayan Mazroei during the fight, Yellin said.

“By all accounts (the victim) was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Yellin said.

A friend of Tanber’s apparently said something rude to the victim, prompting a response from him that angered the defendant, Yellin said. Tanber then allegedly punched and stabbed Mazroei twice in the upper chest area, Yellin said.

Tanber was friends with the woman at the center of the conflict, but they did not have a romantic relationship, Yellin said.

Tanber made his first appearance in the case Monday, when his arraignment was rescheduled for Oct. 2. His bail remained at $1 million, Yellin said.

Tanber was out on parole at the time of the conflict. He had been charged with special circumstances murder in the April 4, 2004 beating death of 26-year-old Cory Lamons in Huntington Beach, but he struck a plea bargain with prosecutors after a mistrial was declared when an alternate juror Googled one of the co-defendants and shared the information with other panelists.

Tanber pleaded guilty Feb. 2, 2007 to voluntary manslaughter and admitted sentencing enhancements for doing so to benefit a street gang, according to court records. He also pleaded guilty to dissuading a witness by force, street terrorism and assault with a deadly weapon or force likely to produce great bodily injury. Tanber was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Convicted killer Billy Joe Johnson, the accused ringleader who lured Lamons to where he was beaten, was one of the co-defendants in Tanber’s case. Johnson is on death row in San Quentin. He was sentenced to death in November 2009, when he told jurors he wanted to go to San Quentin because he would have better amenities there, such as a TV set.

If Tanber had been convicted of special circumstances murder he would have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Tanber is charged with murder with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a knife and prior strike convictions for the Lamons killing. He also has prior strike convictions for residential burglary in 2001, and he is accused of serving a prison term for one year or more and not remaining free for more than five years.

If convicted of Mazroei’s murder, Tanber would face up to 76 years to life in prison.

City News Service

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