Assailant Testifies on Acid Attack : Trials: The man who admitted blinding a woman in a 1989 assault is the star witness in a new case naming the victim’s former stepfather and stepbrother as his partners.


During the year between his arrest and the opening of his Pasadena Superior Court trial, Emad F. Kalta repeatedly denied that he threw acid in the face of a young Glendale woman who was blinded and disfigured by the 1989 assault.

While awaiting trial, Kalta, 21, of Hacienda Heights, refused to help investigators find a motive and or steer them to accomplices.

But in May, just before jury selection, Kalta did an about-face by pleading guilty. And last week, bidding for a lenient sentence, Kalta turned up as the star witness in a new case--naming the victim’s former stepfather and stepbrother as his partners in the attack.

After hearing testimony from Kalta and other witnesses, Glendale Municipal Judge Joseph DeVanon ordered Ara Kachik Topalian, 55, and his son, Carlo Ara Topalian, 21, to stand trial.


The Topalians, each charged with aggravated mayhem and conspiracy to commit aggravated mayhem, were ordered to appear Sept. 20 in Pasadena Superior Court for arraignment.

During the two-day preliminary hearing, Kalta testified that the Topalians bought the acid at an auto parts store, put some in a jar and drove with him to Glendale.

There, they lured Shushan Eloyan, an immigrant from Soviet Armenia, outside with a telephone call and pointed her out.

Kalta said he then walked behind her, tapped on her shoulder, “and when she turned around, that’s when I threw (the acid) at her face.”


Kalta testified that the attack was conceived by Ara Topalian, who blamed Eloyan, who was 22 at the time, for the breakup of his marriage to the woman’s mother.

“He wanted her hurt,” Kalta said. “He wanted to get even with her because she had destroyed his life by making him and his wife separate.”

Kalta described Carlo Topalian as his best friend. The witness said the family did not pay him to throw the acid. He said he committed the crime out of fear that Ara Topalian would harm him or his family.

Kalta, who is being held in Los Angeles County Jail, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. He testified that the judge in his case has promised to consider his cooperation with authorities in deciding a sentence.


After the preliminary hearing, Forrest B. Smith, the attorney for Carlo Topalian, said Kalta’s testimony was the only thing that linked his client to the crime.

“He’s an admitted liar,” Smith said. “I think he’s being untruthful so as to improve his situation.”

“I expect at the trial we will put on enough evidence to convict them both,” responded the prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Nancy M. Naftel .

During the hearing, Naftel videotaped the testimony of Lyudmila Lalayan--Ara Topalian’s former wife and the mother of victim Eloyan.


Lalayan, 50, through an Armenian interpreter, said she has cancer and heart problems. The prosecutor said she will try to introduce Lalayan’s videotaped testimony if the woman cannot appear at the Topalians’ trial.

The gray-haired woman testified that Ara Topalian was a neighbor in Armenia before both married others, had children, then divorced.

In December, 1987, Topalian, who had moved to the United States, returned to his homeland for a visit, she said. The two were married in Armenia in January, 1988.

In June, Topalian brought Lalayan and her daughter to the United States to live in the Rowland Heights area with him and two children from a previous marriage.


But, Lalayan testified, arguments soon erupted in the household.

“His kids didn’t want my Shushan to live in their house,” she said.

After two months, Eloyan moved out and her mother soon followed. While the two were living in a Glendale apartment, Ara Topalian sought a reconciliation, but Lalayan refused, she testified. She said Ara Topalian threatened her daughter.

On the day of the acid attack, Ara Topalian telephoned and offered Lalayan $1,000, apparently for living expenses, she said. The woman sent her daughter to a nearby supermarket to pick up the money, she said.


Lalayan became worried and followed her daughter, but arrived to find her lying on the pavement outside the market, reeling from the acid attack.

“She said, ‘Mama, I can’t see!’ ” Lalayan testified.

Eloyan later told police that she recognized her assailant as a friend of her former stepbrother. Kalta was arrested 10 months after the attack.

Police arrested the Topalians in July. Ara Topalian was living in Glendale, and Carlo Topalian was in New York.