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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Officer Testifies Killings May Be Gang-Related

November 07, 2000

GLENDALE — More than one killer may be responsible for the gruesome playground slayings of two teenage boys in La Crescenta, and the crime may have been gang-related, a police investigator said Monday.

Michael Hrayr Demirdjian, a 15-year-old boy charged as an adult with the murders of the two boys, is linked to the notorious Crips gang, testified Dennis Smith, a robbery-homicide investigator for Glendale Police Department, during the first day of preliminary hearings in Glendale Superior Court.

And though much evidence links Demirdjian to the bloody crime scene at Valley View Elementary School, Smith said, none of the fingerprints or footprints recovered by police so far can be identified as belonging to the youth.

Demirdjian has been charged in the deaths of Blaine Talmo Jr., 14, and Christopher McCulloch, 13. Demirdjian faces two counts of murder with the special circumstances of torture and robbery, and two counts of robbery.

Because of Demirdjian's age, he faces a maximum punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole, if convicted.

His attorney, Charles T. Mathews, contends the youth is innocent and merely witnessed the killings by an adult acquaintance.

Of the fingerprints at the crime scene, four were found on the park bench that crushed one of the victims, but they didn't match those of Demirdjian, Smith said. No matches have been made for the shoe prints.

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