“This was a tragedy, completely, all around,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Kraut. “There’s no pleasure in a verdict like this.”
On Nov. 19 at 9:40 p.m., Atshemyan slammed into Torres’ parked Nissan 240SX after driving his Land Rover SUV southbound between 65 and 75 mph on Columbus Avenue near Riverdale Drive, the prosecution said. Before veering into Torres, Atshemyan had sped through three stop signs on the 25-mph street and narrowly missed hitting another car.
Torres’ friend, Jason Papricio, also from Burbank, was seriously injured and spent two weeks in a coma. He was 17 at the time.
After the crash, Atshemyan fled the scene on foot and wasn’t found until he tried to enter Canada three days later.
Oscar Torres’ mother, Martha, said the verdict represented a welcome end to what has been a difficult trial to get through, especially with the two-year anniversary of her son’s funeral on Dec. 5.
“It’s like the same season, it’s painful,” she said. “Everything comes back like a flash.”
Before the hit-and-run crash, Atshemyan had been cited three times for speeding in Glendale and was found to be at fault for a minor-injury traffic collision, Glendale Police Det. Kevin Hirano said.
His driving record — in addition to his being warned at traffic school about the dangers of his driving habits — prompted the district attorney’s office to file the murder charge, Kraut said.
But Atshemyan’s attorney, Mark Geragos, said that decision was deeply flawed.
“I’m bitterly disappointed,” he said. “I don’t believe that constitutes murder.”
With no drugs or alcohol involved, Geragos said prosecutors should have given the jury the choice of vehicular manslaughter.