A South Pasadena man accused of killing his 5-year-old son, whose remains were found recently at a Santa Barbara County recreation area, pleaded not guilty Monday to murder.
Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, who wore a padded anti-suicide smock that can’t be torn or folded into a noose, appeared at a brief arraignment hearing at an Alhambra courthouse. His bail was set at $10 million.
Andressian’s attorney, Ambrosio Rodriguez, said outside the courtroom that his client is being evaluated by psychologists. Andressian is in a state of “emotional shock,” he said.
“This is a horrible day,” Rodriguez said.
Shaun Estevez, Aramazd Andressian Jr.’s uncle, said his family is “devastated” over the boy’s fate. His sister is Ana Estevez, the boy’s mother.
“We never wanted this result,” he said before the hearing. “I think the main question the family has is ‘Why?’”
The elder Andressian was arrested June 23 in Las Vegas, where he had stayed off and on since his son’s disappearance. Sheriff’s investigators said they had noticed he had lightened his hair, shaved his beard and was preparing to travel to a country where he could avoid extradition. He was flown back to California, arriving at Long Beach airport on Friday.
The next day, after the boy was to be handed off to his mother, his father was found unconscious in a South Pasadena park, his gray BMW doused in gasoline. Authorities believe that Andressian had tried to kill himself by taking prescription pills.
Andressian initially was detained, then released because of a lack of evidence. He told sheriff’s detectives that he had gone with his son to the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area in Santa Barbara County.
The detectives found evidence that Andressian was at the lake April 21, but there were no sightings of his son. Authorities suspect the child had been killed shortly after leaving Disneyland, before the father went to the lake.
After the boy’s disappearance, officials used scent dogs and drones to comb Arroyo Park, where the father was found. Divers searched Cachuma Lake.
But it was not until Friday, when sheriff’s homicide detectives followed new leads back to the Cachuma Lake area, that Aramazd’s body was found.
Detectives said they believe Andressian killed his son because of tumultuous divorce proceedings with his estranged wife.
After the hearing, Shaun Estevez addressed the media with tears in his eyes.
“He was just a great 5-year-old,” Estevez said. “I can’t even remember anytime him getting into trouble.”
Times staff writers Cindy Chang and Richard Winton contributed to this report.
For more news on homicide in Southern California, follow me on Twitter: @NicoleSantaCruz.
2:45 p.m.: This article was updated with more family quotes.
9:25 a.m.: This article was updated with Andressian pleading not guilty.
This article was originally published at 5 a.m.