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Street racer convicted

Jury finds driver guilty of causing paralysis of the driver he hit.

December 10, 2010|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

PASADENA — Jurors on Friday convicted a 20-year-old Glendale man of causing a 38-year-old driver to be paralyzed after a 2009 street racing crash on Glenoaks Boulevard.

Aren Aznavoleh was found guilty of two felony counts of reckless driving and two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon. The Los Angeles County Superior Court jury also found him guilty of causing great bodily harm to Rafick Darosee, who was paralyzed and bed-ridden, and on his 19-year-old car passenger, Tadeh Haghvirdi, who suffered a bloody, broken arm.

"It's not something to be taken lightly," Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Navas said. "Lives were ruined by his conduct."

Evidence and witness testimony during the trial showed that Aznavoleh was racing against a white BMW on Glenoaks at 61 mph when he ran through a red light and crashed into Darosee's Nissan Sentra while he was making a turn.

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Aznavoleh had testified though an Armenian interpreter that he tried to stop, but faulty brakes on his parents' Nissan Quest caused him to crash into Darosee's car. He also denied racing the BMW.

Police officials testified that they found nothing wrong with the brakes, and that no skid marks were found to show that he tried to stop.

A month before the collision, Aznavoleh received a ticket for going 59 mph on Glenoaks near Concord Street, officials said, adding that he didn't contest the ticket and paid the court-ordered fine.

Following the verdict, Aznavoleh was immediately taken into custody. He faces a maximum nine years in state prison, Navas said.

While Aznavoleh's fate rests in the hands of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Teri Schwartz, Darosee's wife and 8-year-old son are still reeling from the crash.

The crash left Darosee, who had moved three months before the crash to the United States, bed-ridden and unable to eat, speak or move, she said.

Unable to handle his needs, the wife checked Darosee into a convalescent home, Navas said.

Unable to financially support the family, she and the son also moved into his parents' home.

The tragic collision highlights the effort by police and residents to stop constant speeding on Glenoaks Bouelvard, and shows that the Police Department will go after violators, investigating Officer Bryan Duncan said.

"We know we have an aggressive effort to slow people down, especially on Glenoaks, but it's a citywide problem," Duncan said.

Police recently launched an education and enforcement "Driven 2 Distraction?" campaign aimed at warning motorists about the effects of distracted driving, including talking or texting on a cell phone, reading a book, eating and applying makeup.

Wrecked cars were staged on Glenoaks to remind motorists to slow down, and then recently moved to a display along Verdugo Road.

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