A 31-year-old man was convicted Thursday of killing his brother’s ex-boyfriend in Sun Valley in what authorities said was a plot to collect on a $2.5 million life insurance payout.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated about seven hours before finding Hachik “Kriss” Maskovian guilty of first-degree murder and attempted kidnapping for the April 24, 2013, killing of Joshua West, the 33-year-old man with whom his brother, Hovanes, had been involved in a long-term romantic relationship.
Jurors found true the special circumstance allegations of murder for financial gain, murder while lying in wait and murder during an attempted kidnapping, but rejected allegations that Hachik Maskovian personally discharged or used a handgun during the commission of the crime.
He is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole, with sentencing set Aug. 26.
A separate jury heard the case against his older brother, Hovanes, 37, and reached a verdict that is scheduled to be read Friday morning.
Hovanes Maskovian — who also could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted — is charged with the same counts and special circumstance allegations, but prosecutors did not file any gun discharge or use allegations against him.
In his opening statement in the brothers’ trial, Deputy District Attorney Geoff Lewin called the attack on West “brutally horrific.”
“Joshua West would not go quickly and he would not go quietly,” Lewin told jurors, noting that a tire iron, a cutting instrument, a car and a gun were used to “finally silence his screams.”
West had broken up with Hovanes Maskovian — also known as John — but the two continued living together for financial reasons as Hovanes Maskovian’s bills continued to mount up, the prosecutor said.
“There is one bill that John will pay,” Lewin said, referring to life insurance policies that Hovanes Maskovian and West had applied for in 2009. Two life insurance policies were issued — $2.5 million on West’s life and $3.5 million on Hovanes Maskovian’s life. Hovanes Maskovian was the primary beneficiary on West’s policy, while the second beneficiary was the victim’s brother, the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor called the evidence against the Maskovians “absolutely overwhelming,” noting that a pair of gloves found in a canyon about two miles from the murder scene tested positive for DNA linked to Hachik Maskovian and the victim.
Hovanes Maskovian’s attorney, Albert DeBlanc Jr., told jurors in his opening statement his client had “no intent to hurt Josh ever” and maintained that the two had a “close, loving relationship” and were still living together.
He said he believed the case would show that his client intended to rescue West.
“You’re going to know that my client John Maskovian is not guilty,” he said.
Hachik Maskovian’s attorney, Alex Kessel, told jurors, “My client had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with shooting the victim. Kriss did not conspire with anyone to kill the victim.”
He said his client and his older brother had separate lifestyles and that Hachik Maskovian had financially helped his brother in the past, but wasn’t particularly close to him.
Co-defendant Nazaret “Nick” Bayamdzhyan, 22, is awaiting trial separately in connection with the killing.
–City News Service