Jury acquits man accused of murder

Amber Willard

GLENDALE -- An Alhambra jury voted Thursday to acquit a former

Glendale resident accused of murder and attempted murder stemming from a

1997 argument at an apartment complex.

Stepan Kozmanian, now 41, claimed the shooting death of Levon

Barsegian was self-defense because Barsegian chased him through the

building with a gun.

"Barsegian was a thug brought in by (Sirekan) Agekian for revenge,"

said Kozmanian's attorney, Anthony Brooklier.

Brooklier argued that Agekian and Barsegian had stalked his client in

the two days before the Oct. 17, 1997, shooting. Agekian had picked a

fight with Kozmanian on Oct. 11, 1997, and then conspired with Barsegian

to lure Kozmanian into a confrontation on the day of the shooting,

Brooklier said Thursday afternoon.

When Agekian tried to pull a gun out of his coat pocket, Kozmanian

shot him in the hand in self-defense, Brooklier said. Barsegian then

chased Kozmanian, pointing a gun at him, when Kozmanian shot him in the

chest, Brooklier said. Barsegian died en route to a hospital.

Kozmanian then fled to Armenia, with whom the U.S. does not have an

extradition treaty, Brooklier said. He returned this summer and

surrendered to authorities.

"He came back on his own to clear his name, he felt so strongly about

his innocence," Brooklier said of his client, who, in 1997, was the

amateur boxing champion of the now-dissolved Soviet Union.

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