A Fresno County Superior Court jury found a Fresno man guilty of second-degree murder and attempted murder in the shooting of a Fresno woman and her husband at a local nightclub two years ago.
Craig Lamar Foster, 46, will be sentenced June 7 for the shooting in the Crossroads nightclub. He could face up to 65 years to life in prison, said Gabriel Brickey, deputy district attorney. Foster’s lawyer, Eric Green, said his client’s sentence could be 25 years to life.
The seven-woman, five-man jury began deliberating Friday afternoon.
In addition to 15 years for second-degree murder, Foster also was found guilty of two counts of intentionally discharging a firearm in the shooting, which should carry 25 years for each count, Brickey said.
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The shooting happened in the late hours of March 23, 2014, after police say Foster tried to flirt with Janee Tatum, but got into an argument with her husband. The shooting and other violent incidents at the nightclub at Cedar and Shields avenues led to its closure.
Foster admitted to shooting at Herman Leon Tatum, 38, Janee Tatum’s husband. Foster struck him twice in the back as the husband tried to protect his wife. Herman Tatum survived.
Janee Tatum, 28, was struck by a bullet in the head, but Foster said he didn’t shoot her, Green said. The bullet that struck her wasn’t found.
“He is remorseful for what happened, but he also swears he didn’t shoot the girl,” Green said following Monday’s verdict.
He is remorseful for what happened, but he also swears he didn’t shoot the girl.
Eric Green, lawyer for Craig Lamar Foster
Green said Foster acted in self-defense because he saw Herman Tatum reaching for a gun and said that he was the aggressor. There was no proof that Herman Tatum ever fired his weapon. Foster fired four times and shell casings at the scene matched his 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, Brickey told the jury.
There was no evidence that Herman Tatum’s gun was fired. But, Green said, there is no proof Foster shot Janee Tatum and that he was convicted by circumstantial evidence.
He described Janee Tatum’s injuries as a grazing blow that caused a fracture to the skull, resulting in her bleeding to death.
Brickey said the Tatum family’s response was “relief.” Family members declined an interview request.
Before the shooting, Foster and the Tatums didn’t know each other.
According to Brickey, Foster started a fight by cursing the Tatums. He then pulled out from his pants pocket the handgun and began shooting.
Afterward, police found two witnesses who saw the gunman. The witnesses and Herman Tatum later picked Foster out from a police photo lineup, Brickey told jurors.
Foster left Fresno after the shooting, but was captured six weeks later by a federal FBI task force in Cleveland. He initially told agents his name was Anthony Smith before admitting his true identity, Fresno police said at the time of his capture.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Janee Tatum’s first name.