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Suspect in monthlong crime spree pleads not guilty to 26 felonies, including murder

A man accused in a violent monthlong crime spree throughout Los Angeles County, including a double shooting in Burbank, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 26 felony charges, officials said.

Artyom Gasparyan led authorities on a round-the-clock manhunt that ended on Jan. 4 when he was shot by Los Angeles police after a wrong-way freeway chase in which he crashed into an oncoming car and tried to escape on foot.

The 32-year-old faces one count of capital murder, 11 counts of attempted murder, seven counts of second-degree robbery, two counts of carjacking, two counts of fleeing police while driving recklessly, and one count each of hit and run resulting in injury, possessing a firearm by a felon and assault with a semiautomatic firearm, according to the Los Angeles County Superior Court criminal complaint.

In a separate complaint, Gasparyan was charged with an additional count each of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, stemming from a stabbing in August, records show.

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Gasparyan, who has missed multiple court dates since his capture due to his hospitalization or refusal to come to court, is being held without bail.

Gasparyan’s public defender could not be reached for comment Tuesday. In an interview the week after Gasparyan’s arrest, his mother Mariam Gasparyan said her son was not capable of committing the crimes of which he’d been accused.

Authorities said Gasparyan’s crime spree began on Dec. 6 and included incidents in Long Beach, Burbank and Panorama City.

On the morning of Dec. 9, Gasparyan reportedly pulled into a driveway of a Burbank home, with electronic music blasting from his car.

After waking up to the music, longtime Burbank resident Bheri Werntz went outside to pick up the newspaper and asked the driver to keep it down.

That’s when Gasparyan allegedly reached for a silver-colored handgun sitting on the passenger seat and shot the 67-year-old. As Gasparyan drove off, he also allegedly shot a gardener working nearby in the foot.

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Within days, Burbank police identified Gasparyan and on Dec. 13 tracked him down to Long Beach, but he got away. Hours later, Gasparyan would reportedly shoot another victim in Los Angeles.

Gasparyan is also suspected in the Dec. 30 murder of a 37-year-old Winnetka man in what was described by Los Angeles police as a possible “road rage” shooting. The victim, identified as Adan Corea-Santillana, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead shortly afterward at a Mission Hills hospital.

The search for Gasparyan came to a dramatic end when Los Angeles police shot him in front of commuters on the 5 Freeway after a short foot pursuit.

Undercover detectives had spotted him at a car repair shop and followed him until he entered the freeway on an offramp. Gasparyan subsequently collided with two oncoming vehicles before he got out of his car, armed with a handgun.

After a short foot pursuit, police shot Gasparyan and took him into custody.

Tchekmedyian writes for Times Community News.

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