A 28-year-old Lake Forest man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder, attempted murder and other allegations for the fatal stabbing of a high school hockey coach and the wounding of another man outside a Lake Forest restaurant early Saturday.
Justin Alvin Masao Tombleson turned himself in to authorities about 3 p.m. Monday, according to the sheriff’s department.
Tombleson is charged with murder, attempted murder with sentencing enhancements for using a deadly weapon, causing great bodily injury and a prior strike conviction for assault causing great bodily injury in 2005, according to the Orange County District
Elvis Kechechian, 26, of Mission Viejo, was stabbed to death during a fight outside Albatros Mexican Food restaurant, 23591 Rockfield Blvd.
Kechechian’s friend — Hossein Saidoian, 32, of Mission Viejo — remained hospitalized today in “extremely critical condition,” according to Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino.
About 2 a.m. Saturday, Kechechian was at the restaurant with his brother, Saidoian and another friend when Kechechian’s brother got into an argument and spit on a woman, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
As the conflict between Kechechian’s group and the woman’s friends escalated, the restaurant’s owner asked them all to leave, according to prosecutors.
The woman called her boyfriend, Tombleson, who was already en route to the restaurant, according to prosecutors. Tombleson confronted Kechechian and Saidoian in the parking lot and a fight ensued, according to prosecutors.
Kechechian was stabbed once in the chest and Saidoian suffered stab wounds to the chest and arm, according to prosecutors.
“He helped everyone, especially me with my hockey career,’ varsity player Joona Kunnas told the Orange County Register. “He pushed me to do better.”
Tombleson was accompanied by his lawyer when he surrendered, sheriff’s Sgt. Andre Spencer said. The suspect’s attorney told investigators his client had acted in self defense but Tombleson made no further statement about the fatal confrontation, Spencer said.
Earlier reports indicated that deputies were seeking a second suspect in the case, but Spencer said today no other suspects were being sought. Investigators were trying to locate two female witnesses, the sergeant said.
Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said investigators questioned 61 people in the case. Investigators did not disclose Tombleson’s arrest earlier because they wanted to protect the ongoing investigation, Hutchens said.
“Our first objective is to have a good case,” Hutchens said at a news conference this morning announcing the arrest.
It doesn’t appear that Kechechian and Tombleson had ever met before, Spencer said.
The suspect’s bail remained at $1 million after today’s arraignment. Tombleson is next due in court June 23 for a pretrial hearing.