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Suspect arrested in text-related slaying

CALIFORNIA

A Van Nuys man is accused of setting up a fatal meeting in a Valley parking lot.

September 17, 2011|Robert Faturechi

A man accused of setting up a fatal 2009 meeting at a North Hollywood parking lot was taken into custody Thursday, marking the fourth arrest police have made in the slaying of a teenager just hours after he sent an insulting text message.

According to authorities, 19-year-old Mike Yepremyan sent a text message to his girlfriend, calling her friend a "bitch." The girl he insulted saw the text, authorities said, and asked her brother to beat up Yepremyan.

Soon after, Yepremyan began receiving phone calls from a stranger who asked him to meet him at a Sears parking lot in North Hollywood, according to witnesses.

Yepremyan and several friends drove to the parking lot where they encountered two men, one who struck the 19-year-old and the other who pulled out a gun and shot him in the head, authorities said.

The two other men and the woman who was insulted were previously arrested and charged, but on Thursday authorities arrested the woman's brother, saying he was an accessory.

Hovik Dzhuryan, 19, was picked up by authorities late Thursday evening at his Van Nuys home, said LAPD Det. Thomas Townsend.

An indictment released Friday accuses Dzhuryan of setting up the fatal parking lot meeting after getting the call from his sister. Authorities, however, say Dzhuryan was not in the Sears parking lot when the slaying occurred.

Dzhuryan and his sister, Kat Vardanian, have both pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Zareh Manjikian, who authorities say shot the teen; and Vahagn Jurian, who authorities say struck the victim, have pleaded not guilty to murder charges.

Thursday's arrest is the latest wrinkle in an investigation that had initially left the family of the slain teen deeply frustrated.

Manjikian was not arrested until more than a year after the shooting and, even then, a judge in Puerto Rico, where he was picked up, granted him bail and he disappeared. Manjikian used his brother's ID to fly out of the island territory, first to Philadelphia and then Las Vegas, before surrendering in July in Van Nuys. Authorities are planning on try all four defendants together.

"This sends a message to everyone," said John Nazarian, a private investigator hired by the slain teen's family. "You can't just kill an innocent boy and with some clever manipulation get away with it."

robert.faturechi@latimes.com

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