Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
BAR PATRONS SENTENCED TO 71 AND 32 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR STABBING MURDER AND ATTEMPTED MURDER OF BOUNCERS AT
NEW YEAR’S EVE BAR PARTY
SANTA ANA – Today , a judge sentenced two bar patrons to two consecutive life sentences each for stabbing two bouncers, killing one, after being asked to leave a bar on New Year’s Eve for making disparaging remarks about Marines. Lorne Paul Kelley, 28, Big Bear, and Ricky Lee Nelson, 29, Hesperia, were convicted on Dec. 17, 2008 by a jury of one felony count of murder and one felony count of attempted murder. A sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon was found true against Kelley, and he has a prior strike for a 2000 assault with a deadly weapon conviction. Kelley received the maximum possible sentence of 71 years to life in prison and Nelson received the maximum possible sentence of 32 years to life in prison.
Co-defendant Candie Kate Wilson, 47, Hesperia, pleaded guilty to one felony count of being an accessory after the fact on Jan. 23, 2009 and was placed on probation.
In the early morning of Jan. 1, 2007, Nelson and Kelley were drinking at Time Out Tavern in Aliso Viejo with friends for New Year’s Eve. While at the bar, Nelson, who had formerly been in the Army, made disparaging remarks about Marines. Several of the bouncers and bar patrons were active or former Marines. Nelson and his friends, including Kelley, were ordered to leave the bar.
Nelson and Kelley became irate that they had been forced to leave the bar. They began yelling at the bouncers from the parking lot, took off their shirts, and attempted to draw the bouncer from the bar for a fight. Kelley armed himself with a knife from the trunk of his car.
While the defendants were in the parking lot, a patron of the bar was attempting to leave with his wife. The patron, an active Marine, was on leave after recently losing a leg while serving in Iraq. Nelson yelled at the man and attempted to punch him. Seeing the attempted attack, several bouncers entered the parking lot to intervene and subdue the defendants. Nelson and Kelley struggled with the bouncers and Kelley used his knife to stab two of them. He stabbed 21-year-old Brandon White once in the neck and stabbed 21-year-old Stephen Cirillo once in the neck and chest. White and Cirillo were transported to the hospital, where White was pronounced dead. Cirillo suffered minor injuries and was treated and released.
Nelson was detained at the scene by bouncers until police arrived. Kelley fled the scene and drove to Laguna Beach to meet Nelson’s aunt, Wilson. Wilson is accused of helping Kelley flee by driving him to Hesperia. She is accused of burning his tank top, which was covered in blood, and cleaning the blood from the inside of the car to conceal Kelley’s guilt.
The family of victim Brandon White including his mother, brother, and sister spoke describing their loss and the impact that loss has had on their lives.