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Prosecution seeks retrial for murder

November 11, 2003

Darleene Barrientos

The two men accused in the slaying of Raul Aguirre could be back on

trial in January if a judge approves a request made Monday by

prosecutors.

The previous trial of Karen Terteryan and Rafael Gevorgyan ended

Friday in a mistrial, with the jury deadlocked on murder and other

charges.

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A trial date was not set Monday, but a hearing to consider whether

to drop the murder charge against Terteryan, 21, and Gevorgyan, 18,

was scheduled for Dec. 15. The court also will consider whether to

allow the men to be tried separately. In their first trial, Terteryan

and Gevorgyan were tried together.

Judge Michael M. Johnson also rejected a motion to lower the bail

for Terteryan and Gevorgyan from $1 million to $65,000.

The district attorney plans to retry the defendants on the

remaining count of murder and special weapons and gang allegations,

as well as a count against Terteryan of participating in a violent

crime in connection with a street gang.

Terteryan and Gevorgyan were riding in a car with a third

defendant, Anait Msryan, when they saw admitted gang member Jimmy

Orozco flashing gang signs at them on May 5, 2000, in front of Hoover

High School. Terteryan reportedly returned gang signs and left the

car to start a fight with Orozco. Aguirre, 17, stepped in to

intervene on Orozco's behalf and was allegedly hit on the head with a

tire iron by Gevorgyan and fatally stabbed by Terteryan. All three

defendants have been jailed since the attack.

A jury of eight women and four men acquitted Terteryan and

Gevorgyan of an attempted murder charge against Orozco and cleared

Gevorgyan of a charge alleging he participated in a violent crime in

connection with a street gang.

Msryan, in a plea bargain with the district attorney's office,

testified against her former co-defendants in exchange for seven

years with the California Youth Authority. Sentenced Friday -- two

days before her 18th birthday -- Msryan will be released before her

21st birthday because of nearly four years' credit for time served.

The district attorney's decision to retry the case was based on

juror statements after the reading of the verdict, Deputy Dist. Atty.

Darrell Mavis said.

"One juror failed to disclose she used to hang out with gang

members," Mavis said during Monday's hearing.

That juror caused four members of the panel to swing away from 10

votes for murder and two votes for manslaughter to an even 6-6 split,

Mavis said. Mavis would not comment further on the jury

deliberations.

Defense lawyer Mark Geragos, who represents Terteryan, said he did

not believe the prosecution would be able to retry the case against

his client and Gevorgyan because Johnson made a mistake in not making

involuntary manslaughter an option in the jury's instructions.

"As to count one, I think they're precluded," Geragos said. "The

jury was struggling with intent. One, the judge can find that at 6-6,

no jury will ever convict. And two, the judge should have given

involuntary manslaughter as an option. And because he didn't, you

can't force them to go through trial again."

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