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N. Hollywood Man Killed Father-in-Law : Conviction Follows Spurned Plea Offer

Times Staff Writer

A North Hollywood man who rejected his attorney’s advice to accept a plea bargain and demanded that his case go to trial was convicted Friday of first-degree murder for shooting his father-in-law to death.

A San Fernando Superior Court jury also found Armik Markarian, 34, guilty of one count of attempted murder for attacking his mother-in-law and one count of assault with a deadly weapon for shooting his estranged wife, Maria, through the hand and beating her with a rifle.

Markarian, a native of Tehran, originally was charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with the Sept. 10, 1984, rampage at the home of his wife’s parents.

Before the start of his trial two weeks ago, Markarian rejected a plea bargain offered by Deputy Dist. Atty. Steve Ogden. Under terms of that agreement, Markarian would have been sentenced to a maximum of 19 years to life in state prison in return for guilty pleas to charges of second-degree murder and attempted murder.

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Markarian stared at the defense table and clenched his hands as the verdict was relayed to him through a Farsi interpreter.

He could be sentenced to a maximum term of 32 years to life in state prison when he appears for sentencing Dec. 20.

“My client gambled and lost,” defense attorney Robert Sheahen said after the verdict. “He could have pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. To say the least, he did not win the lottery.”

Sheahen argued throughout the trial that Markarian shot his father-in-law, Orlando Lazabal, in self-defense after Lazabal fired two shots from a handgun at him.

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But Ogden introduced evidence that Markarian shot his way into the house with a rifle, wounding his wife, Maria, before gunning down Lazabal in a hallway. Witnesses testified during the trial that Markarian then beat his wife as she tried to call paramedics.

Markarian testified that he was drunk when he stormed into the house and that he did not know whom he was shooting when he killed Lazabal.

Sheahen said he will appeal the verdict.

Staff writer Denise Hamilton contributed to this story.

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