A Lake Forest man is scheduled to face trial this morning for fatally stabbing a Santa Margarita Catholic High School hockey coach and his friend who'd been standing in line at a local Mexican joint when a fight broke out.
Justin Alvin Masao Tombleson, 30, faces up to 67 years to life in state prison if he is convicted of two felony murder counts, with sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon.
Elvis Kechechian, a 26-year-old strength and conditioning coach for the hockey team; his brother; his friend Bajador Hossain Saidian*, 32; and another friend went to Albatros Mexican Food on Rockfield in Lake Forest around 2 a.m. on June 11, 2011. Kechechian, who also owned a personal-training business, stood in line while the others went to the restroom. [*Name corrected since earlier versions.]
A woman cut in line in front of Kechechian, and when his brother and friends returned, he told them. That led to a verbal fight that had Kechechian's unidentified brother spitting on the woman. That led to an even louder spat between Kechechian's group and the woman's, so loud the restaurant owner asked them all to leave.
As everyone was making their way to the parking lot, the woman used her cell phone to call her boyfriend, Tombleson, who was already on his way there. He arrived in time for a physical fight, and he is alleged to have pulled a knife out of his pocket and thrust it into Kechechian's chest, perforating the coach's heart. Tombleson is also accused of stabbing Saidian in the chest and arm before fleeing. Kechechian and Saidian were rushed to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where Kechechian was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.
Tombleson was a wanted man for a couple of days before turning himself in at the Orange County Sheriff's Department on June 13, 2011. He was originally arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.
Saidian underwent surgery and hung on in critical condition in the hospital until dying on June 16, 2011. The sheriff's department then amended the arrest of Tombleson to two murder counts.
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According to a statement from the Orange County district attorney's office, deputies recovered a knife near the scene of the stabbings from which DNA evidence was pulled indicating Tombleson had used it.
The attorney for the accused has claimed his client, who pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, acted in self defense. Opening statements in the double-murder trial were scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in Santa Ana.