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.