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Man Sentenced to Prison Over 3 Deaths in Accident

Times Staff Writer

A 22-year-old Los Angeles man was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison for causing a traffic accident in Reseda that killed an 11-month-old baby and his grandparents.

Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Kathryne Ann Stoltz imposed the sentence on Gregory Masterson Michael, who was convicted by a jury last month of three counts of felony vehicular manslaughter in connection with the Oct. 27 accident.

Witnesses testified during the trial that Michael was driving up to 60 m.p.h. when he ran a red light and slammed into the car occupied by the victims.

Benjamin Rochel, 84, of Beverly Hills; his wife Ashraf, 71, and their grandson, Jonathan Rochel, died in the accident at Victory Boulevard and White Oak Avenue.

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The infant’s mother, Fereshteh Rochel, 27, of Reseda, was driving the car and suffered a broken hip and several broken ribs.

Michael, who worked as a plumber, testified at his trial that he had just gotten off work and was in a hurry to get home and go to sleep.

Before sentencing Wednesday, an emotional Michael asked to address the court and members of the victims’ family present in the courtroom.

“I’d like to apologize to the family,” Michael said as he began sobbing. “I feel that I’ve had a fair trial.”

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Afterward, Deputy Dist. Atty. Phillip H. Rabichow said he was satisfied with the sentence. “I felt the judge was very fair.”

The families of both the defendant and the victims declined comment.


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