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Teen Denies Hitting Anyone in Fatal Fight

Co-defendant testifies that he was holding a tire iron to scare foes but didn't brandish it.

October 24, 2003|Anna Gorman | Times Staff Writer

A teenager on trial on a murder charge denied hitting anyone during a brawl near Hoover High School in Glendale three years ago, testifying Thursday that he had only tried to defend his friend against a hostile group of Latino teenagers.

Rafael Gevorgyan told jurors that he had held a tire iron to scare the crowd away but had never brandished it or struck anyone. "I never swung at anybody, sir," said the 18-year-old Armenian American, who was wearing a white shirt and beige tie and appeared calm on the witness stand in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Gevorgyan testified that he had been injured during the fight and that he had never seen his co-defendant, Karen Terteryan, 21, holding or using a knife.

High school senior Raul Aguirre was fatally stabbed May 5, 2000, just days before his 18th birthday. Another teenager, Jimmy Orozco, was injured.

Both defendants are charged with murder and attempted murder and could receive life sentences if convicted. Authorities believe that Terteryan is a member of an Armenian gang and that Orozco belongs to a rival gang.

A third defendant, Anait Msyran, who drove her friends to the high school and helped one get away, pleaded guilty before the trial and testified for the prosecution.

Gevorgyan testified that the defendants were in a car when someone yelled racial slurs and flashed gang signs, prompting Terteryan to jump out. Gevorgyan told jurors that he followed when he saw a Latino remove a shiny metal weapon from his backpack.

"I thought these people were gonna, like, hurt him," he told the jury.

Prosecutors allege that Gevorgyan and Terteryan committed the murder in a show of gang pride.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Darrell Mavis questioned how Gevorgyan could have seen a shiny object through a tinted car window from across the street. Mavis also challenged the defendant's testimony that he hadn't raised the tire iron against anybody, even when he was being punched and kicked.

"You don't even try to block their blows with it?" Mavis asked. "You didn't even try to stop their punches with it?"

Gevorgyan repeated his statement that he had kept the tire iron at his side.

He said he had gone to Hoover to pick up some CDs from his girlfriend. When he first got out of the car, the group backed up at the sight of the tire iron, he said, but then, "They came and tried to attack me."

He ran across the street and was pushed to the ground and kicked before he was able to get back into Msyran's car, according to his testimony.

Aguirre's mother, Leticia Aguirre, who sat in the courtroom during the testimony, said it was difficult to hear what she called lies coming from the defendant. She said her son had been the true victim, not either defendant.

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