A Superior Court judge late Tuesday dismissed murder, attempted robbery and conspiracy charges against six suspects in an alleged extortion that set off a gun battle that left two men dead.
The case was tainted early on when it was learned that a Glendale merchant who was allegedly the victim of a gang of extortionists was on felony probation--making it illegal for him to possess the pistol he said he used to defend himself in the gunfight. His subsequent refusal to testify hampered the prosecution.
Judge Victor Person, responding to a pretrial motion by defense lawyers, ruled that a preliminary hearing failed to provide the men with a fair opportunity to present their defense.
Defense lawyers, although pleased with the ruling, said their clients were rearrested immediately and remained in custody without bail. It is likely that at least some of the men will be charged again, the lawyers said.
"It's a mixed victory," said attorney Alex Kessel, who represents defendant Karen Takvoryan, 22, of Van Nuys.
The other defendants are Takvoryan's brother, Hovhanes Takvoryan, 23, also of Van Nuys; Gagik Kazarian, 44, of Glendale; Khoren Broutian, 32, of Hollywood; and Hovik Fiterz, 36, of North Hollywood. Suspect Samvel Krboyan, 42, of Van Nuys remains at large.