Judge convicts ‘evil personified’ for series of deadly crimes in the Valley

LOS ANGELES, CA – As a judge called him “evil personified,” an ex-con was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for participating in a series of violent crimes that included a motorist fatally shot in Panorama City and an oncoming highway accident in which a woman and her three children were injured in Sun Valley.

Superior Court Judge Eleanor J. Hunter also added an additional 242 years to the life sentence of Artyom Gasparyan, 38, who was convicted last August of more than 30 counts, including a charge of first degree murder arising from December 30. 2015, murder of Adan Corea, a 32-year-old father of two who lost control of his vehicle after being shot.

The jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation of an intentional shooting from a vehicle, as well as an allegation that an accomplice of Gasparyan was armed in the Corea shooting.

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Gasparyan was also convicted of crimes committed between August 5, 2015 and January 4, 2016, including attempted murder, robbery, carjacking, shooting at an unoccupied vehicle, escape from a police officer’s motor vehicle. peace chasing him as he drove recklessly, hit-and-run, assault with a gun on a peace officer, and possession of a firearm by a felon.

“You’re just evil personified,” the judge told the defendant, adding that it was a “miracle that more people weren’t killed” because of his “cold”, “insane” and ” foolish”.

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Assistant District Attorney John McKinney told the judge – who was assigned the case after the trial – that this was a case of “extreme violence” and that Gasparyan is “one of the toughest people in the world.” most dangerous to walk the streets of Los Angeles County”. .”

Gasparyan’s lawyer, Felipe de la Torre, countered that his client wanted the judge and others to know that “he is a man who was wrongly convicted”.

In his opening statement, the prosecutor told jurors that Gasparyan was linked to the crimes through GPS evidence of a silver four-door 2011 Volkswagen Jetta that the prosecutor said was registered in the name of Gasparyan’s mother and was regularly driven by the accused.

“All of the crimes in this case were committed while this vehicle was on the scene…” McKinney said, noting that an analysis of a Garmin GPS device plugged into the vehicle’s dashboard allowed jurors to ” literally see the movement of the car”. at every crime scene.”

Defense counsel noted in closing argument that his client had testified in his own defense that other people had access to the vehicle.

“Giving access to someone else doesn’t make you guilty of the crimes they committed,” de la Torre told jurors.

He said the case was based on “inaccurate and unreliable eyewitness identifications”.

Gasparyan’s attorney said his client was Armenian and not Hispanic as some of the witnesses described him.

He also questioned the account of two police officers who he said “made up this story” that Gasparyan took a gun while being chased following the highway crash the wrong way.

The defense attorney urged the panel to acquit his client on all but two counts – felony in possession of a firearm and hit and run.

“He’s not a murderer… (he) doesn’t shoot people,” de la Torre said.

The prosecutor – who urged jurors to “hold Mr. Gasparyan accountable for all the crimes he committed and all the people he harmed” – said the crime wave involved a cross-section of people, including the shooting of two unknown people crossing the street. , a parking valet who was shot dead after money was demanded, a woman who survived six stab wounds and the owners of vehicles who were shot while parked on a street in Glendale – the latter having occurred on the accused’s birthday.

A ‘twist occurred’ after Los Angeles police issued a crime alert after determining the crimes were connected, McKinney said, telling jurors Gasparyan began working with an ‘accomplice’ named Daniel Ramirez.

The two were involved in the shooting of a food delivery driver who suffered ‘devastating injuries’ when he was shot six times after trying to flee on foot in late December 2015; a “road rage” incident the next day in which two people were shot just before two shots were fired at Corea, who died shortly afterwards in a hospital; and the robberies of two gas station convenience stores and two men returning home to the Silver Lake area from a Trader Joe’s store, the prosecutor said.

Ramirez shot himself and killed himself after barricading himself in a Long Beach home following carjackings of two vehicles on New Years Day 2016, as LAPD tactical surveillance units continued to search for Gasparyan, who was driving against the tide on Highway 5 three days later. and fled on foot after the crash the wrong way, according to the assistant prosecutor.

As the police chased Gasparyan, two officers saw him reach into his pocket and “pull out the gun”, and they shot him as he held a .357 caliber revolver in one of his hands, McKinney told jurors.

In a document released in January 2019, Los Angeles County prosecutors concluded that the force used by Los Angeles Police Detectives Marcelo Raffi and Peter Miranda was “reasonable under the circumstances in order to defend their lives and the lives of others. , and capture a dangerous, fugitive criminal.”

Then-LAPD Chief Charlie Beck – who called Gasparyan a “very, very dangerous individual” – said police were actively looking for him in connection with the alleged crime spree.

Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy – who presided over the trial – previously denied a motion brought at the request of District Attorney George Gascon to dismiss the special circumstance allegation, which opened Gasparyan to a life sentence. without parole, according to the prosecutor. .

By TERRI VERMEULEN KEITH, City News Service