Judge gives OK to move forward with life insurance policy murder trial

A Glendale man, his brother and a friend who are accused of killing his estranged boyfriend to collect on his life insurance policy were held Wednesday to answer to murder charges.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Hayden Zacky ruled that sufficient evidence was presented during a three-day preliminary hearing to move forward with a trial against Hovanes Maskovian, 34, his brother Hachik “Kriss” Maskovian, 29, and 20-year-old Nazaret “Nick” Bayamdzhyan in the death of 33-year-old Glendale resident Joshua West.

“I think I am convinced as to what occurred,” he said in a San Fernando courtroom.

The brothers and Bayamdzhyan are charged with murder, along with the special circumstances of lying in wait and murder for financial gain.

Zacky dismissed an attempted kidnapping charge and a related special circumstance because there wasn’t enough evidence to support them.

The trio is scheduled to appear March 19 to be arraigned.

Prosecutor Geoffrey Lewin said the brothers and Bayamdzhyan reportedly planned to kill West to recover proceeds from his life insurance policy.

“You only get the money if Josh West is dead,” he said in court on Wednesday.

The three men, he alleged, set up West by luring him with a story about acquiring a cellphone.

West reportedly met up with Hovanes Maskovian, his brother and Bayamdzhyan last April 24 in the 10700 block of Vinedale Street, where witnesses told investigators they saw him being assaulted, a Los Angeles Police officer testified this week.

He was able to break free during the attack and tried to solicit help from a passing motorist, who reportedly saw the assault and yelled at his attackers to stop.

Hovanes Maskovian allegedly told investigators that he got into West’s Mercedes and drove toward him in an attempt to rescue him. But he reportedly lost control of the vehicle and struck West, a detective said.

Bayamdzhyan told detectives that Hachik Maskovian allegedly retrieved a gun from his tow truck and shot West.

Hachik Maskovian and Bayamdzhyan reportedly picked up West’s body, placed him inside the tow truck and then fled the scene, a detective testified.

Bayamdzhyan allegedly told investigators they later dumped West’s body in the 10200 block of Penrose Street, where an officer spotted them fleeing the scene in the tow truck.

The officer followed them, but stopped when Bayamdzhyan jumped out of the tow truck.

Investigators later uncovered that Hovanes Maskovian called a State Farm insurance agent the day before the killing to inquire about his and West’s insurance policies.

She testified on Friday that she returned his call the next day and let him know their policies were OK.

Still, detectives said statements by Hovanes Maskovian and Bayamdzhyan were inconsistent.

Hachik Maskovian’s attorney Alex Kessel said his client’s co-defendants had credibility problems because of the discrepancies in their statements.

His client, he said, is eligible for the death sentence or life without the possibility of parole due to the seriousness of the charges.

Bayamdzhyan’s attorney Karine Basmadjian told Zacky that her client shouldn’t be held to answer because there was insufficient evidence, but added that he could be held for assault.

She argued that no evidence was presented to show that he had conversations with his co-defendants about West’s life insurance.

Still, she said, “he clearly placed himself at the scene.”


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


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