Grigoryan has bail set at $2M

PASADENA — A Superior Court judge set a $2-million bail Thursday for Ara Grigoryan, the Glendale man accused of causing the hit-and-run death of Elizabeth Sandoval.

Grigoryan was being held without bail, but Judge Dorothy Shubin set bail Thursday saying that although he was a flight risk, he did not meet the other criteria to be held without bail.

Shubin set Grigoryan’s bail high because of the seriousness of the crime and because he had fled the country, she said.

Grigoryan’s attorney, Christopher Pfau, argued that the bail was higher than similar cases have had.

“I am not satisfied,” he said. “I respect the judge and her rendering, but that doesn’t mean I agree with it.”

Grigoryan, 21, hit Sandoval on July 10, 2007, with his mother’s Mercedes-Benz as she jaywalked across South Glendale Avenue just south of East Windsor Road.

He did not stop after striking her and fled the country to Mexico en route to Armenia. Police arrested him July 18, 2007, in Mexico City.

Grigoryan is charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. All three charges are felonies.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Casey Higgins objected to setting a bail for Grigoryan because he said Grigoryan could flee the country if he posts bail.

“He did flee to Mexico in the first place,” Higgins said.

But Pfau said Grigoryan turned himself in to police.

“Every piece of evidence indicates my client made a conscious decision to turn himself in,” Pfau said.

Grigoryan fled to Tijuana, then took a flight to Mexico City, where he went to customs officials, Pfau said. Border officials reportedly offered to send Grigoryan back to his native Armenia, but he refused and asked to be sent back to the United States, Pfau said.

“He had multiple opportunities to flee,” Pfau said.

Mexican authorities notified Glendale police officers that they had arrested Grigoryan after he was trying reenter the United States with improper paperwork, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

“That’s how we found out about it, because he was being detained by Mexican authorities,” Lorenz said.

Sandoval’s father, Guadalupe Sandoval, disagreed with the judge’s ruling.

“I don’t think they should have given him bail,” he said.

But setting the bail at $2 million is really the same thing, Pfau said, adding that it would be difficult for Grigoryan’s family to come up with that kind of money.

“He is going to remain in custody,” Pfau said. “He is not going to get out.”


 VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

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