ALHAMBRA (CBSLA.com/AP) — A South Pasadena man pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing his 5-year-old son after a family trip to Disneyland earlier this year.
Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder in the death of Aramazd Andressian Jr. during a hearing at the Los Angeles Superior Court in Alhambra. He had previously pleaded not guilty to the charge. He will face 25 years to life in prison when he is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 23.
Andressian Sr.’s made an open plea, meaning it was not negotiated with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He showed little emotion during the hearing. Andressian Jr.’s mother, Ana Estevez, was in court Tuesday, along with several other family members.
Andressian Sr.’s attorney told reporters Tuesday that following his client’s arrest in Las Vegas, he provided investigators with the information that led them to Andressian Jr.’s body.
“Today, Mr. Andressian took responsibility for what he did and he plead guilty to first-degree murder,” Andressian Sr.’s attorney Ambrosio Rodriquez said. “It was Mr. Andressian, when he was brought back to Las Vegas, that gave the officers the information as to where his son was buried.”
Prosecutors contend Andressian Sr. killed his son, Aramazd Andressian Jr., to get back at his estranged wife.
“I think the plea speak for itself,” Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum said. “It’s our position the evidence clearly supports the fact that it was planned, that it was premeditated, it was deliberate. He had this in mind before he actually committed the murder.”
Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators have said they think the boy was killed early April 21. His body was found on June 30 near Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County, the same day Andressian Sr. was extradited back to Los Angeles.
Andressian Sr. was found passed out in a South Pasadena park on April 22. He had taken prescription pills and was found in a car doused in gasoline in an apparent suicide attempt, sheriff’s officials said. Andressian told authorities that he drove that day about 145 miles to Lake Cachuma.
LATEST COVERAGE: The Case of Aramazd Andressian Jr.
The area was searched several times, but the boy’s remains were not discovered until more than two months after his disappearance.
Authorities have not yet disclosed how the boy was killed.
Andressian Sr. was arrested June 23 in Las Vegas. He spent the 47 days prior to his arrest “socializing” in Las Vegas, officials said.
Andressian Sr. was in the middle of a divorce and custody battle with Estevez, authorities said. Andressian planned his son’s murder to get back at his estranged wife during a “tumultuous” divorce and then tried to commit suicide — before heading to Las Vegas to prepare to flee the country, sheriff’s officials said after Andressian’s arrest.
At his extradition hearing in Las Vegas, Andressian Sr. calmly told a judge that he would not resist being sent back to Los Angeles.
“If California wants me, they can come get me,” Andressian Sr. told the judge.
The boy was last seen at 1 a.m. on April 21 leaving Disneyland with his father, who was found unconscious at Arroyo Seco Park in South Pasadena the next day and was unable to account for his son’s whereabouts. His car had been doused with gasoline and prescription drugs were found at the scene.
Andressian Sr. told investigators he arrived at the park with his son and waited for the golf course to open, and admitted ingesting prescription medication that was not prescribed to him, Mendoza said.
Aramazd Jr. was supposed to be dropped off to his mother at Arroyo Seco Park at 9 a.m. on April 22 — part of the estranged couple’s custody agreement.
The father said he did not remember what happened to his child or any details that were useful in locating the boy, according to Mendoza, who said a prescription bottle was found inside Andressian’s vehicle.
The investigation into the death included several weeks of surveillance, during which the suspect “significantly” changed his appearance, acted in a manner inconsistent with the behavior of a grieving parent and appeared to be planning to flee to a country from which he could not be extradited, Mendoza said.
The intensive search for the boy spanned several Southern California counties. Investigators had previously scoured the Lake Cachuma Recreation Area near Santa Barbara, where Andressian told authorities he took the boy after the Disneyland trip.
Andressian Sr. was originally arrested in Los Angeles County shortly after his son went missing, but was later released for lack of evidence.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)