Dear Mr. Rackauckas and Mr. Yellin:
We, the Iranian American Bar Association, Pars Equality Center, and the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, write to you on behalf of the Iranian American community regarding the case of People v. Tanber (15HF1045). It is our understanding that your office has charged third-striker Craig Matthew Tanber with one felony count of murder with sentencing enhancements for the death of 22 year old Iranian American Shayan Mazroei.
As your press release notes, Defendant Tanber is a known white supremacist gang member who has prior convictions for other violent offenses. It has come to our attention that witnesses at Patsy’s Irish Pub in Laguna Niguel stated that Tanber made several ethnic slurs toward Mr. Mazroei preceding the fatal stabbing.
Upon hearing about Tanber’s gang affiliations and the witness accounts, many in the Iranian American community are understandably outraged that this may have been a hate crime gone under-charged. As you surely know, hate crime enhancements may be imposed if bias based on the victim’s ethnicity was a substantial motivating factor in defendant’s commission of the crime. Pursuant to California Penal Code section 190.2(a)(16), the penalty for a defendant who is found guilty of murder in the first degree, with the special circumstance of the victim being intentionally killed because of his nationality or country of origin, is death or imprisonment in the state prison for life without the possibility of parole. We are mindful that your office made its charging determination based on the evidence at hand at the time of filing. We urge you to continue a thorough investigation and consider adding hate crime allegations/enhancements which accurately reflect defendant’s motive and bias. In the meantime, we respectfully request that you provide us with the rationale for your current charging decision, specifically the decision not to allege hate crimes.
Furthermore, please provide information regarding Beth Thornburg who was present with Defendant Tanber and was heard making ethnic slurs toward victim Mazroei at the time of the fatal stabbing. Please explain why charges were not filed against her. We trust the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will be transparent in communicating the relevant information with the community who is grieving the loss of victim Mazroei in this senseless murder. We thank you for your time and attention to this inquiry and look forward to hearing from you expeditiously. Please direct your response to attorney Sarvenaz Fahimi, Pars Equality Center, at 408-297-6700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Iranian American Bar Association
Pars Equality Center
The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans