Jury finds murder suspect guilty

A 51-year-old man was convicted this week in the murder of a 20-year-old Glendale resident who was shot to death in 2005 during a home invasion robbery, officials said.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury on Monday found Vrej Zadurian, who was already serving time in prison for another crime when he was arrested, guilty of killing and robbing Christopher Shahnazari on Nov. 1, 2005 in the Glendale home he shared with his family.

“It's been seven years. It's a very painful process,” said Christopher Shahnazari's brother, Sevan Shahnazari.

Sevan Shahnazari and his family — longtime Glendale residents and restaurant owners — sat in court for days listening to testimony about the robbery and viewing graphic autopsy photographs, which he says replay in his mind.

“We have been through a lot,” he said.

The violent robbery attempt began unfolding just after noon when thieves entered the Shahnazaris' home on Bruce Street. They blindfolded Christopher Shahnazari's mother and beat her until he arrived home and walked in on the ordeal.

Christopher Shahnazari tried to tell the group of three or four intruders that his family didn't have any money.

Before they hauled him into another room, he kissed his mother on cheek, gave her a hug and said “I love you and I won't let anything happen to you.”

Sevan Shahnazari said his brother was badly beaten by the men. Zadurian then delivered the fatal gunshot to Christopher Shahnazari's chest.

During that time, his mother managed to escape. As she ran away, Sevan Shahnazari said, she heard the final gunshot.

Police initially arrested Edmond Ovasapyan after Christopher Shahnazari's mother said he looked like one of the perpetrators.

Police turned their case over to the county district attorney's office, which decided to file murder charges.

But detectives had collected DNA evidence to be examined by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department crime lab. Once the evidence was returned, detectives determined that Ovasapyan wasn't the perpetrator and he was exonerated.

Ovasapyan successfully sued two Glendale police detectives and the city for $1.31 million, which he accused of violating his civil rights.

In 2008, the detectives interviewed and arrested Zadurian, who was in state prison when Ovasapyan was arrested, after DNA evidence reportedly tied him to Christopher Shahnazari's death. The other men involved in the incident have not been caught.

“We have some closure with one of the suspects being arrested and convicted,” Sevan Shahnazari said. “It takes a little bit off our minds.”

Police investigators haven't identified any other suspects, said Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz.

But police will continue to investigate the case if Zadurian's conspirators are identified.

Zadurian is scheduled to be sentenced May 1.


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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