Three plead not guilty in Aguirre case

October 09, 2002

Gretchen Hoffman

Two teens who are being charged as adults in the May 5, 2000,

murder of a Hoover High school senior will soon get another taste of

adult life: A judge has ordered them moved from Juvenile Hall to a

county jail.

Karen Terteryan, 20, and the teens -- Rafael Gevorgyan, 17, and

Anait Msryan, 16 -- entered not-guilty pleas before a Los Angeles


Superior Court judge Tuesday.

The three are charged with the stabbing murder of Hoover High

School senior Raul Aguirre outside Toll Middle School.

County taxpayers might end up footing the bill for their legal

expenses at trial.

The trio is accused of street gang murder, attempted murder and

street terrorism in an attack that allegedly began when one of

Aguirre's friends, an admitted gang member, and Gevorgyan and

Terteryan flashed gang signs at each other.

Terteryan was 17 when he allegedly stabbed Aguirre, who

prosecutors 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.

Terteryan also is 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.

Despite the 2 1/2-year lag between the teens' arrests and their

arraignment, their attorneys argued Tuesday they were not ready to

enter pleas for their clients.

Ted Flier, Msryan's attorney, asked Judge David S. Wesley to delay

the arraignment for two weeks because of the complexity of the case.

But Wesley denied the motion, provoking the ire of attorney Paul

Geragos, who was standing in for Mark Geragos as Terteryan's


Geragos acknowledged the charges against his client "without

acknowledging the defamatory and degrading aspect of this

information" and said Terteryan "stands mute." The judge entered a

not-guilty plea on his behalf.

"We weren't prepared to come in here and be arraigned today,"

Geragos protested. "The court has steamrolled us today and we don't

have the proper options."

The judge granted the prosecution's request to move Msryan and

Gevorgyan from Sylmar Juvenile Hall to a county facility. The Board

of Supervisors in August directed that teens accused of adult crimes

be transferred to adult jails, where security is tighter. Msryan and

Gevorgyan will be housed with other juveniles.

Flier called the judge's decision "absolutely atrocious. It's

counterproductive for any thought of rehabilitation."

Flier also asked the judge that he, Mark Geragos and Gevorgyan

attorney Andrew Flier be appointed as the defendants' lawyers --

which would mean the county would pay for expenses incurred as the

case moves toward trial. The judge made no ruling on the motion

Tuesday but indicated he would approve it, Flier said.

"Having had the case for two years, I don't feel like leaving, but

I can't do it for nothing," said Flier, who declined to estimate how

much the trial would cost.

The case will return to court Oct. 29.

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