PASADENA— Jurors will begin today to decide the fate of a 20-year-old Glendale man accused of paralyzing another driver in the aftermath of a 2009 car race on Glenoaks Boulevard.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Navas told jurors during her closing arguments in Pasadena Superior Court that the defendant, Aren Aznavoleh, had treated his car as a weapon against the victim, Rafick Darosee. Darosee, 38, was not racing when his Nissan Sentra was struck.
"On January 9, Rafick Darosee lost everything," she told jurors.
During his closing argument, Aznavoleh's attorney Vincent Quigg acknowledged his client was negligent in causing the collision, but said it should be a civil, not criminal, matter.
"The defendant's young life is your hands," he told jurors.
Aznavoleh, who testified Wednesday though an Armenian interpreter, denied that he was racing prior to the crash.
Aznavoleh is charged with two felony counts of reckless driving and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
He said he tried applying the brake on his parents' Nissan Quest as he approached a red light at Concord Street, but crashed into Darosee. Faulty brakes, he said, were a factor in the collision and may have contributed to its occurrence. Aznavoleh's passenger, Tadeh Haghvirdi, 19, sustained a severely broken arm during the crash.
"I tried as much as I needed to stop at the red light," Aznavoleh said.
Glendale Police Larry Ballesteros testified that the brakes had been examined and nothing was wrong with them.
Ballesteros, who is the department's expert in collision reconstruction, testified that Aznavoleh was likely driving 61 mph, well above the 40 mph speed limit on Glenoaks.
Aznavoleh testified that he was traveling at about 50 mph when his brakes failed.
Navas, in her closing, noted that witnesses had testified that they heard no braking noise and no skid marks were found on the ground.
Police officials suspect that Aznavoleh was racing a white BMW. Navas pointed out to jurors that Aznavoleh's friends testified that they had asked him to slow down when the BMW pulled next to them.
Just before the collision, Aznavoleh got a ticket for speeding on Glenoaks near Concord Street, officials said.
He was reportedly driving 59 mph, but he told Officer Jay Katska, who testified Wednesday, that he was going 43 mph. Aznavoleh didn't contest the ticket and paid the court-ordered fine, officials said.