Fa­ther ad­mits killing boy

South Pasadena man pleads guilty in the slay­ing of his 5-year-old son

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Ni­cole Santa Cruz

Ana Estevez sat in the front row of an Al­ham­bra court­room, clutch­ing a small white urn that held the re­mains of her 5-year-old son.

Within mo­ments, the man just a few feet in front of her would plead guilty to the boy’s killing.

This was no stranger. It was the man she had once loved, the fa­ther of their child.

Estevez and her fam­ily and friends wept Tues­day as a pros­e­cu­tor read aloud the mur­der charge and men­tioned the vic­tim by name: Ara­mazd An­dres­sian Jr.

Wear­ing yel­low jail scrubs, his fa­ther, Ara­mazd An­dres­sian Sr., pleaded guilty and an­swered “yes” to ques­tions about whether he un­der­stood his rights and the con­se­quences of his de­ci­sion to change his plea. An­dres­sian was barely audi­ble, prompt­ing Su­pe­rior Court Judge Cathryn F. Brougham to ask him to speak up.

Be­fore he was es­corted from the court­room, An­dres­sian turned and glanced at his es­tranged wife and her fam­ily. He is sched­uled to be sen­tenced to 25 years to life in prison when he re­turns to court Aug. 23.

The boy’s dis­ap­pear­ance in April af­ter leav­ing Dis­ney­land with his fa­ther and two other rel­a­tives led to a fran­tic search that dragged on for more than two months and cul­mi­nated in the dis­cov­ery of the child’s re­mains June 30 near Cachuma Lake in Santa Bar­bara County.

Out­side the court­house Tues­day, Deputy Dist. Atty. Craig Hum called the killing “hor­ri­bly tragic.”

“Ev­ery mur­der is a tragedy, but cases like this re­ally,

re­ally tug at your heart,” he said.

The boy’s fam­ily did not speak to re­porters af­ter the hear­ing.

An­dres­sian’s at­tor­ney said his client had not planned the killing and was now tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the “aw­ful crime.” An­dres­sian had told au­thor­i­ties where to find his son’s body, which led to the dis­cov­ery of the re­mains, at­tor­ney Am­bro­sio Ro­driguez said.

“He is be­yond words in re­gret­ting hav­ing com­mit­ted such an act,” Ro­driguez told re­porters.

An­dres­sian was ac­cused of plan­ning the killing to get back at his es­tranged wife dur­ing tu­mul­tuous di­vorce pro­ceed­ings that be­gan in April 2016.

In court records, An­dres­sian al­leged that Estevez spanked their son, used pro­fan­ity and talked of tak­ing the boy to Cuba. He said he was con­cerned that Estevez’s fa­ther prac­ticed the reli­gion of San­te­ria and once sac­ri­ficed a rooster in front of the child.

In 2016, An­dres­sian made al­le­ga­tions that the child had been sex­u­ally abused by “Omar,” the son of Estevez’s new boyfriend, “TJ,” ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ments. Estevez told po­lice at the time that she did not have a boyfriend, and that her child never com­plained of abuse. Af­ter a so­cial worker ques­tioned the child about the al­le­ga­tions, the child ad­mit­ted to not telling the truth and said his fa­ther told him to lie, ac­cord­ing to court records.

Estevez, an el­e­men­tary school prin­ci­pal, ac­cused her hus­band of falsely say­ing he was a stay-at-home dad who was their son’s pri­mary care­giver, the records show. She said her mother and fa­ther took care of Ara­mazd Jr. when she was at work, she said.

She al­leged that her hus­band had a gam­bling prob­lem and was ad­dicted to pre­scrip­tion drugs, ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ments. She said he told her that if any­thing were to hap­pen be­tween them, he would take the child to Iran or Ar­me­nia.

A Los An­ge­les County judge or­dered Estevez to pay her hus­band spousal and child sup­port be­cause he wasn’t work­ing. Both par­ents were awarded joint cus­tody of their son.

The boy was last seen alive about 1 a.m. April 21 as he was leav­ing Dis­ney­land with his fa­ther, aunt and grand­mother. Estevez re­ported him miss­ing the next day, af­ter An­dres­sian failed to show up at a planned cus­tody ex­change.

An­dres­sian was found un­con­scious in a South Pasadena park, his gray BMW doused with gaso­line, and said he didn’t know what had hap­pened to his son. Au­thor­i­ties said he had tried to kill him­self by tak­ing pre­scrip­tion pills that were not his.

An­dres­sian ini­tially was de­tained, then re­leased be­cause of a lack of ev­i­dence. He told Los An­ge­les County sher­iff’s de­tec­tives that he had gone with his son to Cachuma Lake Recre­ation Area in Santa Bar­bara County.

As the search for her son con­tin­ued, Estevez filed pa­per­work ask­ing the di­vorce court to end the child and spousal sup­port pay­ments. Her hus­band, she de­clared, had “lost our son while our son was in his cus­tody.”

She said she had pro­vided “hard ev­i­dence show­ing” An­dres­sian’s char­ac­ter, “yet my ev­i­dence was ig­nored,” she wrote. At the same time, she said, her hus­band’s state­ments “with no sup­port­ing doc­u­ments was be­lieved and re­lied upon by this court.”

The de­tec­tives found ev­i­dence that An­dres­sian was at the lake on the day the boy went miss­ing, but there were no sight­ings of his son.

Au­thor­i­ties sus­pect the child had been killed shortly af­ter leav­ing Dis­ney­land, be­fore the fa­ther went to the lake.

An­dres­sian was ar­rested June 23 in Las Ve­gas, where he had stayed on and off since his son’s dis­ap­pear­ance. In­ves­ti­ga­tors said he had light­ened his hair, shaved his beard and ap­peared to be mak­ing plans to travel to a coun­try where he could avoid ex­tra­di­tion.

Au­thor­i­ties dis­cov­ered the child’s re­mains the same day An­dres­sian was flown back to Cal­i­for­nia. De­tec­tives have not re­leased a cause of death.

Pho­to­graphs by Al Seib Los An­ge­les Times

ARA­MAZD An­dres­sian Sr. glances at his es­tranged wife and her fam­ily as he is es­corted from an Al­ham­bra court­room af­ter he pleaded guilty to killing his 5-year-old son, Ara­mazd An­dres­sian Jr. An­dres­sian is sched­uled to be sen­tenced to 25 years to life in prison Aug. 23.

REL­A­TIVES and friends of Ana Estevez, the mother of Ara­mazd An­dres­sian Jr., hug and pray af­ter her es­tranged hus­band pleaded guilty to killing their son.

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