As a packed Santa Monica courtroom looked on in surprise, a defense attorney for a former security guard accused of murdering a Pacific Palisades teen-ager two years ago told jurors Tuesday that his client was indeed the killer.
“I believe that the defendant is guilty of murder and you should so find,” Paul Takakjian said in an argument just before the fate of his client, Rodney Garmanian, went to the panel.
However, Takakjian, who presented no defense during the Superior Court trial, did urge that Garmanian be found not guilty of attempted rape. Conviction on that charge could send him to the gas chamber because it would be considered a special circumstance that would automatically mean the death penalty or life in state prison without possibility of parole.
The eleventh-hour admission appeared to be aimed at avoiding capital punishment for Garmanian, a former MacGuard Security employee who had maintained that he stumbled upon the body of Teak Dyer on the bathroom floor of a Palisades office building. The young woman was last seen alive at a party celebrating what was to be her graduation from Palisades High School the next day.
Without a conviction on the rape count, 25 years to life would be the stiffest sentence possible and he would be eligible for parole.
“I hope you can see beyond the defense trickery,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Lauren Weis told jurors in her closing argument. “In this case you’re one step ahead of the game: You know the defendant did it.”
Using photographs and detailed charts of the crime, Weis--who is seeking a first-degree murder conviction--ticked off the evidence against Garmanian. She also told jurors that the defendant had “all the trappings” of a security guard but turned out to be “a predator who took advantage of a defenseless girl.”
Garmanian was linked to the slaying through his gun, bloodstains, pubic hair, fingerprints, his own statements, his access to the murder scene and his failure to keep radio contact with his office around the time of the killing. The prosecution presented 35 witnesses during the trial.
“We will never know how their paths crossed,” said Weis, speculating that the victim asked the private patrolman for a ride or was forced into his car. She had attended a party at the Santa Monica Pier carousel and had stopped off with friends at a house on Swarthmore Avenue en route to another party in Rustic Canyon.
“He (Garmanian) saw a girl he had to have . . . a tipsy teen-ager with no fear of walking at night” and thus an easy mark. He took her to the deserted building to rape her, and as the young woman struggled against his advances, “it got out of hand.” She was badly beaten and shot three times.