L.A. judge orders trial in teen murder

September 26, 2002

Gretchen Hoffman

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered a young

man and two teenagers to stand trial in the May 5, 2000, stabbing

murder of Hoover High School senior Raul Aguirre outside Toll Middle


Karen Terteryan, 20, Rafael Gevorgyan, 17, and Anait Msryan, 16,

are accused of killing Aguirre in a murder that forced many in the


community to open their eyes to ethnic tensions in Glendale. The

attack allegedly began when one of Aguirre's friends, an admitted

gang member, and Gevorgyan and Terteryan flashed gang signs at each

other, police said.

Terteryan was 17 when he allegedly stabbed Aguirre, who police say

was trying to intervene in the fight. Gevorgyan, then 15, allegedly

hit Aguirre in the head with a crowbar. Msryan, then 14, is accused

of driving the boys to the scene.

Following a preliminary hearing that has proceeded in fits and

starts since it began in April, Judge William Chidsey Jr. found

sufficient evidence to send the young man and two teens to trial on

charges of street gang murder, attempted murder and street terrorism.

Terteryan is also accused of the special-circumstance allegation

of being an active member of a street gang and committing the murder

to further the gang's activities.

"It's very hard on [Aguirre's] family," Deputy Dist. Atty. Darrell

Mavis said. "They have a hard time understanding how a case can take

2 1/2 years just to get to a trial court."

The three have been jailed since shortly after the killing. They

were charged in May 2000 and indicted four months later as adults

under Proposition 21.

Defense lawyers challenged the indictment, arguing that the grand

jury should not decide if a minor is tried as an adult. A state court

of appeals sided with the defense, ruling that juveniles must be

given a preliminary hearing before a judge to determine if there is

enough evidence for them to stand trial.

Prosecutors refiled the charges after a judge dismissed the


"There have been some unique aspects to this case because of the

new legislation," Mavis said. "But they got their preliminary

hearing, which is what they wanted. Now a judge has agreed that

there's sufficient evidence to have a jury hear this case at trial."

After binding the three over for trial, the judge refused a

defense request to lower the $1-million bail for Gevorgyan and

Msryan. No request was made on Terteryan's behalf.

The defendant's lawyers have maintained their clients' innocence.

"I think that they've represented their clients well, but the fact

remains that they're guilty of murder," Mavis said.

Mark Geragos, Terteryan's attorney, said he was not surprised by

the judge's decision to order his client to stand trial but was

pleased with the evidence that was presented in the preliminary


"I think it shows that there was no murder," Geragos said. "The

coroner's report showed my client was not the aggressor. At best,

this is a case of manslaughter."

Arraignment is set for Oct. 8. Mavis said he expects the trial to

begin in December.

Glendale News-Press Articles Glendale News-Press Articles