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Judge hands out the max

September 04, 2004

Robert Chacon

As the last of the men convicted in the slaying of her son four years

ago apologized to her in court Friday, Leticia Aguirre stretched out

her arms and moved to embrace him.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson told her to stop.

Then he sentenced Rafael Gevorgyan, 19, to the maximum penalty of

18 years in prison for his part in Raul Aguirre's slaying.

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"Remember my words," Gevorgyan said in his 5-minute statement to

Aguirre and the court. "Please forgive me. Not a day goes by that I

don't regret getting involved in that fight. No parent deserves such

pain," he said.

"All I know is that I saw my friend being beaten up," he added,

referring to why he got involved in the struggle that killed Raul

Aguirre.

"I don't know if I have forgiven him, but as a mother, I feel the

pain he is going through," Leticia Aguirre said after the sentencing.

"I felt at the time that I could forgive him. It moved me that he did

this."

Johnson, however, was unswayed by Gevorgyan's apology. He added

five years to the involuntary manslaughter sentence because of

Gevorgyan's association with street gang members. Johnson said he

couldn't consider a lesser sentence because Gevorgyan had lied to a

jury last fall when he testified he did not swing a tire iron at the

victim.

Johnson's sentence means Gevorgyan will spend another 14 years in

prison. He has served four years of the 18-year sentence.

Johnson said it was the fitting price to pay for the fight in

front of Hoover High School.

"Raul Aguirre was almost 18 when he died. It is appropriate for

Mr. Gevorgyan to give 18 years for the life he took," Johnson said.

Defense Attorney Andrew Flier argued for a lesser sentence, saying

that in four years Gevorgyan has been a model prisoner, finishing

high school and getting a job as an assistant to his teacher. Flier

also argued against allegations that his client was an associate of a

street gang. He emphasized that Gevorgyan only intended to protect

his friend, Karen Terteryan, from a group of boys who were pummeling

him.

"I want the court to truly understand what kind of person my

client is. He is not the person we have just heard terrible things

about," Flier said of Gevorgyan. "We have a two-minute act that

changed his life."

Gevorgyan does not have a previous record, he added.

Terteryan, now 21, pleaded guilty in July to voluntary

manslaughter and street terrorism in connection with Aguirre's death

in May 2000. Terteryan fatally stabbed Aguirre during the fight and

was sentenced to 23 years and eight months behind bars.

A third defendant, Anait Msryan, was sentenced to seven years in

the California Youth Authority for driving the car Gevorgyan and

Terteryan were riding in before and after the fight. Both exited the

car when an employee of Taco Bell reportedly flashed gang signs at

them. Aguirre jumped into the fight.

After the sentencing, Flier was furious and filed an appeal of the

sentence.

"We are happy that justice was served today," Deputy District

Atty. Darell Mavis said. "We were able to convince the court that

when you commit an adult crime, you should be dealt with as an

adult."

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