Bid to Reinstate Murder Charges Denied on Appeal
The state Supreme Court has denied an appeal to reinstate murder charges against three juveniles in the killing of a 17-year-old student outside a Glendale high school last year.
An appellate court in August dismissed a murder indictment against Karen Terteryan, now 19, and ordered preliminary hearings for two co-defendants, Rafael Gevorgyan, 16, and Anait Msryan, 15.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal found that under Proposition 21 a grand jury cannot indict minors as adults, as occurred with the three defendants. It also ruled that the ballot measure, approved by voters in March 2000, entitles juveniles charged as adults to preliminary hearings, which are available only when prosecutors directly charge defendants.
The state Supreme Court denied an appeal by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office without comment, letting stand the appellate opinion.
Defense attorneys say they will ask a judge to release their clients from jail. They say prosecutors cannot recharge defendants for the same crimes as many times as they desire.
Prosecutors had filed murder charges against all three defendants in May 2000, but later dismissed the charges. A grand jury indicted the three in August 2000 in a move that allowed prosecutors to forgo preliminary hearings.
Since then, the case, one of the first filed under Proposition 21 in Los Angeles County, has been tangled in appeals over the constitutionality of indicting minors as adults without judicial review before trial.
“My position is, it has been dismissed twice and that’s it,” attorney Mark Geragos, representing Terteryan, said Wednesday. He said his client “should walk out the door on Dec. 3,” the next court hearing date. “I don’t think the trial judge can do anything but dismiss” the indictment, he said.
Attorney Ted Flier, who represents Msryan, said without the indictment the criminal cases must start from scratch, including new fitness hearings to determine whether each defendant should be tried as an adult. Msryan and Gevorgyan were found in May to be unfit to be tried as juveniles.
Prosecutors say Terteryan, then 17, stabbed Hoover High School senior Raul Aguirre while Gevorgyan, then 15, allegedly clubbed Aguirre with a tire iron. Msryan, then 14, allegedly drove the co-defendants to the school, where the killing occurred, and then tried to help Terteryan, her boyfriend, escape.
A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office was unaware of the court’s order and declined to comment Wednesday.