While the mother of Aramazd Andressian Jr. was frantically distributing stacks of fliers across Los Angeles for her missing 5-year-old, his father was hundreds of miles away.
In Las Vegas, Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, saw Britney Spears and Celine Dion perform, authorities say. He caught a boxing match. And at one point he went skydiving.
But nearly four months after the child’s disappearance, Andressian was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years to life in prison for smothering his son to death in the back seat of his gray BMW.
“I hope you relive the image of you murdering my baby in your mind for the rest of your life,” the child’s mother, Ana Estevez, said in an Alhambra courtroom as she confronted her estranged husband, mascara running down her cheeks. “I pity you. You are a failure as a father. You are a failure as a man. You are a failure as a human being.”
The child’s uncle, Shaun Estevez, told Andressian he had no right to call Aramazd Jr. his son.
“You were supposed to protect him, not harm him,” he said.
Andressian planned to kill his child after a trip to Disneyland, then commit suicide while setting things up to make it look like his estranged wife had some involvement, said Det. Louie Aguilera with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Andressian and Estevez had been embroiled in a tumultuous divorce since April 2016.
Defense attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez said his client had taken responsibility for what he had done by pleading guilty early during the criminal case.
“There are no words to justify what happened. My client did eventually do the right thing,” he said.
Authorities suspected Andressian from the beginning.
The boy, affectionately known as Piqui, was last seen alive about 1 a.m. April 21 as he was leaving Disneyland with his father, aunt and grandmother. The child’s mother reported him missing the next day after Andressian failed to show up at a custody exchange.
On the same day, Andressian was found unconscious in a South Pasadena park. The inside and outside of his BMW had been doused in gasoline, and he had taken prescription pills in what authorities said was an effort to kill himself.
Andressian claimed that he didn’t know what had happened to his son. Detectives arrested him on charges of child endangerment. During his booking at the South Pasadena police station, he told an officer, “I bet they think of me like some kind of Casey Anthony,” according to a probation report filed in court.
When Andressian was in jail, he called his mother and told her, “My life is done … I’m black inside,” according to the report.
Andressian was eventually released because of lack of evidence.
Aramazd Andressian Sr. walks into court on Wednesday, Aug. 23, where he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for murdering his 5-year-old son after a trip to Disneyland earlier this year.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Aramazd Andressian Sr., right, sits with his lawyer, Ambrosio Rodriguez, in an Alhambra courtroom as he was was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for murdering his 5-year-old son after a trip to Disneyland earlier this year.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Shaun Estevez, the victim’s uncle, stands with the boy’s mother, Ana Estevez, while she gives an emotional statement during the sentencing of her estranged husband, Aramazd Andressian Sr.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Aramazd Andressian Sr. listens during his sentencing.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Alexandria Esteves, 22, a cousin of slain 5-year-old Aramazd Andressian Jr., gives a victim impact statement in an Alhambra courtroom during the sentencing of the boy’s father.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Family and friends greet each other outside an Alhambra courtroom after the sentencing of Aramazd Andressian Sr.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Ana Estevez, mother of the victim, is hugged by family and friends outside an Alhambra courtroom after the sentencing of her estranged husband for the murder of her 5-year-old son.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Investigators had already searched the BMW and found “numerous” prescription medications, two large knives and a child’s sweatshirt with a white film that appeared to be vomit. After looking at Andressian’s computer, they found that he had created a will and searched online for wilderness areas, according to the probation report.
Andressian had been falsely telling people that Estevez had been following him and that he was afraid for his life, Aguilera said.
In their divorce case, the couple had been trading accusations. Andressian alleged that Estevez spanked their son, used profanity and had talked of taking the boy to Cuba. He said he was concerned that Estevez’s father practiced the religion of Santeria and once sacrificed a rooster in front of the child.
She alleged that her husband had a gambling problem and was addicted to prescription drugs, according to the court documents. She said he had told her that if anything were to happen between them, he would take the child to Iran or Armenia.
After her son disappeared, Estevez, an elementary school principal, filed paperwork asking a divorce court to end the child- and spousal-support payments she had been ordered to pay her husband. She declared Andressian had “lost our son while our son was in his custody.”
She wrote that she had provided “hard evidence showing” Andressian’s character, “yet my evidence was ignored.” At the same time, she said, her husband’s account “with no supporting documents was believed and relied upon by this court.”
Authorities launched an extensive search for the missing boy, employing a drone, cadaver dogs, hundreds of volunteers and search-and-rescue personnel.
Meanwhile, investigators were monitoring Andressian’s movements, including his attendance at shows and meetings with prostitutes in Las Vegas, according to Aguilera and the probation report. Detectives noticed Andressian lightened his hair, and they believed he was going to flee the country. He was arrested on suspicion of murder in Las Vegas on June 23.
He eventually told investigators what had happened and where he had left the boy’s body. The child’s remains were discovered near a Santa Barbara County recreation area on June 30, the same day his father was flown back to the Los Angeles area.
Aguilera said the boy’s dead body had been left by a tree within five hours of leaving Disneyland.
Estevez recently told a probation officer that she has been unable to return home since her child was murdered. She sleeps with her son’s sweatshirt each night and has not been back to work at her South L.A. elementary school since his disappearance, the probation report said. She doubts she can return, because she can’t be around children.
“There is no simple answer to that question, because no measure of justice will bring my Piqui back,” she said. “I think a more appropriate response is that Piqui, my family and I are victims of justice.”
Estevez placed blame on the court system and the L.A. County Department of Child and Family Services in her child’s killing.
She said she had requested sole custody of the child and been denied. She had also reported that the child had been kicked on his bottom, pinched on the cheeks and was yelled at and told he was a bad boy by his father, yet social workers did nothing, she said.
“So once again, I return to the question, ‘Was justice served?’” she asked. “In my eyes and in my heart, when there is accountability for all, then justice will have been served.”
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8:00 p.m.: This article was updated with more details from court as well as information from a probation report and a sheriff’s detective.
1:25 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the boy’s mother and a sheriff’s detective.
11:25 a.m.: This article was updated with details from the sentencing hearing.
11:10 a.m.: This article was updated with the sentence.
This article was originally published at 4 a.m.