Aramazd Andressian Sr., father of five-year-old Aramazd Andressian Jr., whose body was found near Lake Cachuma on June 30, pled guilty to first degree murder for the death of his son Tuesday morning during a preliminary hearing at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Alhambra. He agreed to a penalty of 25 years to life, and will be eligible for parole after 25 years. The next court date for sentencing is scheduled for August 23.
Bearded, with slicked back hair, Andressian Sr. entered the courtroom in a yellow jumpsuit and sat down in front of Judge Cathryn F. Brougham beside his defense attorney, Ambrosio Rodriguez. District Attorney Craig Hum read him the terms of the guilty plea, asking the former South Pasadena resident for his confirmation at various points.
Andressian Sr. spoke softly, offering only terse responses: “Yes,” “Yes, I am,” “I do.” At one point he was asked by both the judge and the prosecutor to speak up. Behind him, in the front row, Andressian Jr.’s mother, Ana Estevez, his grandmother and his uncle stifled sobs and consoled each other. Two more rows of friends and family were seated behind them.
Estevez was holding an urn containing her son’s ashes. Friends and family in the second row placed their hands on the backs of Estevez, her mother, and her brother. As Andressian Sr. exited the courtroom, he glanced in Estevez’s direction.
Andressian Sr.’s attorney was the first to speak to reporters afterwards.
“Today marks the beginning of the end to this awful tragedy,” said Rodriguez. “The family, not just the mother’s side but also the father’s side of the family can begin to get what closure they can. There is really nothing more to say other than the fact that [my client] pled guilty.”
Rodriguez stressed that Andressian Sr. was always intent on pleading guilty.”He didn’t change his mind, this was something in the works all along. As soon as he became my client, he told me that this was something that he wanted to do. I obviously needed time as his attorney to get a hold of all of the police reports, all of the evidence against him, and to have him evaluated and for me to spend time with him.”
“We even advanced the court date from August 16 to today,” continued Rodriguez, “because my client wanted to plead guilty and take responsibility for what he did. That is why he confessed and told the police where the body was.”
Rodriguez emphasized that his client’s decision not to plead guilty at the arraignment hearing in early July was in line with the standard for murder cases. “I needed to make sure my client was in the right state of mind,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that his plea was legitimate and valid so that there was no issue going forward.”
Rodriguez also said that by pleading guilty, his client avoided the prosecution pressing to prove special circumstances that would have subjected Andressian Sr. to the possibility of serving life without parole or of receiving the death penalty. Kidnapping is one of these special circumstances, but prosecution did not have sufficient grounds to pursue a charge, the District Attorney told the media later, because the father picked up his son legally during a custody exchange.
Asked if Andressian Sr. felt any remorse for his actions, Rodriguez responded that there were no words to express the “sadness” and “desperation” that his client feels. He further characterized his client’s emotions as “beyond regret.”
Rodriguez was followed at the podium by Hum, who somberly answered a flurry of questions. “From a legal standpoint, I’m as satisfied as anyone can be about a murder of a five-year-old,” he said. Continuing, he said that evidence strongly supported that Andressian Jr.’s murder was premeditated and planned. “He had this in mind,” Hum said, referring to Andressian Sr.
Further information concerning the cause of death will be released at a later point. Hum said that he “was not a liberty to say when and how the murder happened.”
Reporters and cameramen engulfed Ana Estevez and her friends and family as they tried to make their way to their cars to exit the facility after speaking with the District Attorney. Estevez and company were overwhelmed by the media presence, said her brother, and retreated back into the courthouse building. “Please give my family some time to breathe,” he said.
He also informed the media that Estevez would be releasing a statement later today.