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THE VALLEY

3 Ordered to Stand Trial in Teen Death

September 26, 2002|JEAN GUCCIONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Three people, including a 16-year-old girl, were ordered Wednesday to stand trial in the stabbing death of a student who tried to break up a gang fight outside his Glendale high school.

Anait Msryan, 16; Rafael Gevorgyan, 17; and Karen Terteryan, 20, are charged with murder in the May 5, 2000, gang slaying of 17-year-old Raul Aguirre, the attempted murder of rival gang member Jimmy Orozco and street terrorism.

Terteryan, who also is charged with the special circumstance of intentionally killing Aguirre to further criminal street-gang activities, faces life in prison without parole if convicted. The other two could be sentenced to a maximum of 35 years to life.

"This is your classic case of gang warfare," Deputy Dist. Atty. Darrell Mavis said.

During the preliminary hearing, police witnesses testified that Terteryan, an Armenian Power gang member, was in a black car driven by Msryan when he flashed gang signs at Orozco in front of Hoover High School as students were leaving school for the day. Orozco responded with signs from his own Westside Locos gang.

Police officers testified that Terteryan and Gevorgyan, armed with a tire iron, jumped out of Msryan's car and assaulted Orozco while students looked on.

"They didn't care about witnesses; they were there to send a message: Don't mess with Armenian Power," Mavis said.

Prosecutors say that Aguirre, a high school senior planning to join the Marines after graduation, tried to disarm Gevorgyan when Terteryan stabbed him to death. Orozco fled the scene and was not seriously injured.

In court, defense lawyers argued that their clients should be held on lesser charges.

Attorney Theodore Flier said Msryan, who was 14 when she was charged with murder as an adult, is not a gang member and drove the others to the school not knowing that someone would be killed. He said her worst offense is being an accessory after the fact--but not the more serious charge of aiding and abetting in Aguirre's murder and Orozco's attempted murder.

Mavis, however, said Msryan turned her car around and was a getaway driver for Gevorgyan, and wore a bloodied sweatshirt after the killing. He also showed the judge photographs from Msryan's scrapbook of her wearing gang clothes and pointing a handgun.

Attorney Andrew Flier told the judge that although Gevorgyan might have hit Aguirre with a tire iron, "My client did not kill anyone."

He said Gevorgyan was on the ground in a defensive position when Aguirre was stabbed twice in the chest and twice in the back, causing his death. He also argued that Gevorgyan is not a gang member and should be charged with the less serious crime of assaulting Aguirre with a deadly weapon.

Attorney Mark Geragos said Terteryan was acting in self-defense when he stabbed Aguirre, who was standing over a fallen Gevorgyan when he was killed. He said his client should be charged with manslaughter but not murder.

Despite those arguments, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William R. Chidsey Jr. found sufficient evidence to order each defendant to trial on all the pending charges. The next court hearing is Oct. 8.

Chidsey also denied defense motions to reduce the $1-million bail now set for Msryan and Gevorgyan. Terteryan is being held without bail. All three defendants have been in custody since their May 2000 arrests.

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