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Defendant Admits He Tried to Set Up an Alibi

Testimony: Teen accused of killing two boys acknowledges sending a computer message asking about the victims when he knew they were dead.

April 10, 2001|CAITLIN LIU | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eleven days into the murder trial of Michael Hrayr Demirdjian, the 16-year-old accused of bludgeoning two boys to death, the outcome of the case may hinge on this: Does the jury believe his claim that he was merely a witness to the crime?

On Monday, Demirdjian's third day of testimony, the teen steadfastly denied that he killed or even harmed 14-year-old Blaine Talmo Jr. and 13-year-old Christopher McCulloch, and continued asserting that a man named Adam Walker did it.

Demirdjian has admitted under grueling cross-examination by Deputy Dist. Atty. Steve Barshop that he has repeatedly lied in the past when asked about the victims or the crime.

Demirdjian also admitted that 24 hours after he knew the victims were dead, he sent a friend an "instant message" over the Internet, asking, "Have you seen Chris and Blaine?" and telling his friend that he liked Blaine.

"You were trying to set up an alibi, right?" Barshop asked in Pasadena Superior Court.

"Yeah," Demirdjian replied.

"Why did you do it?"

Demirdjian had a glassy look in his eyes. "I'm not sure. I just wanna' get away from reality."

Prosecutors contend that Demirdjian robbed and beat Blaine and Christopher to death with a rock on the night of July 22, 2000 because he was angry over a drug deal rip-off five days earlier.

Blaine had introduced Demirdjian to Walker, an alleged drug dealer, who took $660 from Demirdjian without giving him the promised marijuana, according to prosecutors. Demirdjian and several other youths--whom prosecutors have named as suspects but not yet charged--then tried to exact revenge on Walker and his associates, Barshop said.

On the witness stand, Demirdjian denied that a drug rip-off ever happened, even after a friend's earlier testimony that Demirdjian had said someone had taken several hundred dollars from him, and that Demirdjian was supposed to get some "weed," but didn't.

Demirdjian testified that the killings were sparked when Christopher started picking on Walker, who was with Demirdjian and Blaine at the La Crescenta school playground.

Christopher said something about "cliques" at a park, Demirdjian said. Christopher and Walker then started "making fun of each other . . . 'You skinny, tall,' stuff like that . . . then Adam got mad," Demirdjian said.

Barshop expressed skepticism that Walker, 19, would hang out with boys the age of Christopher and Blaine, and that Christopher would poke fun at a grown man who was larger than he.

Under questioning by Barshop, Demirdjian then described, in great detail, how Walker choked one boy, choked the other, threw a rock at both, dragged a bench over Christopher's chest, and then emptied the victims' pockets.

Demirdjian said he stood there and watched everything. He said Walker didn't hurt him, but threw Blaine's wallet at him.

"[Did] you think about going to help your friends?" Barshop asked.

"No," Demirdjian said.

When Barshop displayed photos showing Demirdjian with injured hands shortly after the crime, Demirdjian replied that he cut his hand when he smashed a wine bottle at the playground.

Jurors then heard a tape of a police interview in which Demirdjian told detectives he had cut his hand with a knife.

Barshop reminded Demirdjian that he admitted under oath to having lied when he told police that a travel clock recovered from his house belonged to him, when in fact in had belonged to Blaine.

"It's hard to do, to look them in the face and lie?" Barshop smirked. "It's easy, isn't it?"

Demirdjian did not reply.

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