Attempted-murder trial in jury's hands

PASADENA — A jury began deliberating the fate today of two North Hollywood men who reportedly shot at a Glendale man and six others during a road-rage incident nearly four years ago on Halloween.

Attorneys concluded their closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, wrapping up a four-day trial in Pasadena Superior Court for Mkrtich Melkonian and Hrant Barsegyan.

“They worked together,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Martin Bean told jurors. “They must be held accountable together.”

The 21-year-olds were charged with seven felony counts of attempted murder and a felony count of shooting at an occupied vehicle on Oct. 31, 2005.

“Attempted murder is what it sounds like — you tried to kill somebody,” Bean said.

The pair reportedly shot a Glendale man once in the back while he was a passenger in a white van near Glenwood Road and Alameda Avenue.

Melkonian and Barsegyan were inside a black SUV when they reportedly got in an argument at 9:45 p.m. with the man and his six friends, who were in a van.

The man and his friends allegedly yelled out obscenities and called the pair names while driving on Glenoaks Boulevard, Melkonian’s attorney Daniel Nardoni told jurors.

“The situation we have here is one of road rage,” Nardoni said.

Melkonian allegedly got out of his SUV at Glenwood Road and Alameda Avenue, walked toward the van and fired shots at it.

One of the bullets hit the Glendale man, who was 17 at the time, in the back.

Two witnesses saw the shooting and took down the SUV’s license plate number, Bean told jurors.

Melkonian reportedly got back in the SUV and fled the scene with Barsegyan.

They then allegedly went to a friend’s home, got into a white Honda Accord and drove off.

The pair encountered the man and his friends again at Western Avenue and the Golden State (5) Freeway while they were headed to the hospital, Bean said.

Melkonian reportedly fired shots at them a second time, but no one was hit.

The van had been speeding and swerving to avoid being struck by gunfire, Bean said.

The Burbank Police Department was notified of the shooting and saw the vehicle. They stopped the car and arrested Melkonian and Barsegyan.

Bean told jurors that while Barsegyan was in the back of a patrol car, he said, “We discarded the toy.”

Barsegyan’s attorney Julie Taschetta told jurors he didn’t know that Melkonian had a gun and was going to shoot at the van.

“There is no evidence [showing] that my client had an intent to kill,” she said.

Judge Janice Croft instructed the jury to decide whether Melkonian and Barsegyan were guilty or innocent, and then to determine each count individually.


 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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