(ANAHEIM, CA – 8/7/2018) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today welcomed new charges of felony accessory-after-the-fact in the 2015 murder of Shayan Mazroei, an Iranian-American college student.
However, CAIR-LA was disappointed that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has refused to charge either Elizabeth Anne Thornburg or alleged murderer Craig Tanber with a hate crime enhancement.
“Three years to the day after this young man was murdered, all the alleged participants in his death will now face justice,” CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said. “It is unfortunate the District Attorney’s office cannot or will not see the components of a hate crime.”
On Sept. 7, 2015, Mazroei was a patron at Patsy’s Irish Pub in Laguna Niguel and got into a verbal altercation with both Thornburg and Tanber. According to an Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigation that relied on surveillance camera footage and eyewitnesses, Thornburg repeatedly spat on Mazroei and called him an “Arab,” a “(expletive) Iranian” and a “terrorist.”
Thornburg is accused of luring Mazroei outside, where Tanber – a former Public Enemy Number One Death Squad (PEN1) white supremacist – allegedly stabbed Mazroei repeatedly and fled in Thorburg’s car.
Tanber was captured after a four-day manhunt. Tanber allegedly told authorities he had asked Mazroei, “Why do Muslims hate women so much?” before stabbing the 22-year-old engineering student.
Tanber was charged with one felony count murder with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a knife and is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 21. His trial is scheduled to start on Jan. 8, 2019.
CAIR-LA Managing Civil Rights Attorney Marwa Rifahie said the hate speech the night of the incident, as well as Tanber’s statement after he was arrested, show both Tanber and Thornburg could be charged with a hate crime.
“According to the state penal code, ”˜hate crime’ means a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more actual or perceived characteristics of the victim, including either nationality, race, ethnicity or religion,” Rifahie said. “Their statements before and after this young man was stabbed clearly indicate a crime committed based on more than one factor under state law.”
According to a recent report published by CAIR-LA and the other three offices that comprise the CAIR California Chapter, the amount of hate crimes reported to the four offices increased by 60 percent in 2017 from the previous year.
“These increasing numbers show the growing fearlessness of bigots and racists in committing these crimes,” Ayloush said. “This is why it is imperative for the legal system to call these crimes what they truly are – hate crimes. And they need to be prosecuted as such.”
CAIR-LA is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Eugene W. Fields, 714-776-1847 or firstname.lastname@example.org