A state appeals court panel Friday upheld the convictions of two brothers who murdered a Glendale man on a Sun Valley street in what authorities said was a plot to collect on a $2.5 million life insurance payout.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to support the convictions of Hovanes “John” Maskovian, and Hachik “Kriss” Maskovian for the April 24, 2013, killing of Hovanes Maskovian’s former love interest, 33-year-old Joshua West.
“… There was sufficient evidence the defendants murdered West to collect his life insurance proceeds: John prioritized premium payments over other unpaid bills even though he and West had broken up, and John confirmed the validity of the policy the day before the murder, something he had never done before,” the appellate court panel found in its 40-page ruling.
The justices cited the “brutality of the attack, which included repeatedly slamming West’s head in a truck door, clubbing him with a tire iron and running him down with a car” and noted that those actions “evidenced an intent to kill regardless of who ultimately shot him.”
The two brothers were convicted by separate juries in June 2016 of first-degree murder and attempted kidnapping, with jurors finding true the special circumstance allegations of murder for financial gain, murder while lying in wait and murder during an attempted kidnapping. They were each sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A third defendant, Nazaret “Nick” Bayamdzhyan, now 24, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and admitted a gun allegation. He was sentenced to 21 years in state prison.
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, who is now 38 years old, but the two continued living together for financial reasons as Hovanes Maskovian’s bills continued to mount, 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 trial attorney, Albert DeBlanc Jr., told jurors that 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.
Now 33-year-old Hachik “Kriss” Maskovian’s trial 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 helped his brother financially in the past but wasn’t particularly close to him.
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