Driver pleads not guilty

GLENDALE — A 28-year-old Glendale man pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he struck and killed a 61-year-old prominent Glendale doctor who was walking to a patient's home on a house call, officials said.

Prosecutors charged Edmond Grigoryan, who also goes by Vardan Hakobyan, with one felony count of gross vehicular manslaughter while he was allegedly driving under the influence of a controlled substance and hit Jacob Orphali on Oct. 12 in Glendale, according to a criminal complaint.

"Obviously, the family is anxious that everything goes forward and that justice will prevail," said Orphali's family attorney, Sarkis Ourfalian, who will represent them during the civil lawsuit.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Frederick Rotenberg ordered Grigoryan, who appeared in a Glendale courtroom Thursday, to turn over his passport and travel documents by Dec. 29 after investigators said they considered him a flight risk.

Grigoryan's attorney, William Salle, had argued his client was not a flight risk because he lives with his wife and two children.

Orphali's wife, Verona, and three children — Jaina, Cindy and Rafi — as well as friends and employees packed the courtroom during Grigoryan's arraignment.

"It is very rough," Verona Orphali said.

Grigoryan was originally arrested on Oct. 12 on suspicion of a felony count of driving under the influence of drugs after hitting Orphali, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

Orphali had just parked on the 1100 block of Western Avenue and had his driver's side door open as he prepared to make a house call, Lorenz said.

Grigoryan was traveling north when, for unknown reasons, he drifted into the parking lane and struck Orphali while the doctor was standing next to his car, Lorenz said.

Police evaluated Grigoryan and arrested him on suspicion of felony driving under the influence of a controlled substance, Lorenz said. He was later released from jail after posting a $100,000 bond.

Orphali was taken to a local hospital, where he remained for a little more than two days before he died, officials said.

It wasn't until authorities said test results confirmed Grigoryan was under the influence of drugs that they amended the criminal complaint to include the felony manslaughter charge.

The family attorney said Orphali was one of the few doctors who still visited ailing patients at their homes, and that he hoped the case would bring added attention to Glendale's ongoing problem with traffic collisions involving pedestrians.

"He was very close with patients and he cared too much," his wife, Verona, said. "He treated everybody very special and he was always there to lend a helping hand."

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