Parents fear trial abroad will never bring closure

first_imgGLENDALE – Odet Tsaturyan’s bedroom is a window into a vibrant life cut short by tragedy. Amid the prom photos, stuffed animals and a collection of Bollywood videos sits a bare cardboard picture frame, a craft project she will never complete. “You wish all the mothers in the world not to have tears in their eyes, but for one year there were always tears,” her father, Shagen Tsaturyan, said in recent interview nearly a year after Odet’s body was discovered in the trunk of her boyfriend’s car. Her boyfriend, Artur Khanzadyan, 25, of Glendale fled to his native Armenia after Odet’s disappearance. He was apprehended there last November and charged with strangling her. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los AngelesIf he is convicted during his murder trial that will start Aug. 22, he could serve up to 12 years in an Armenian prison. Although invited to attend, the Tsaturyan family is boycotting the trial, saying Khanzadyan should be tried in the United States, where he would face a prison sentence of 15 years to life if convicted. “I wish for justice to take place,” Tsaturyan said. “I want this to be a lesson to others who would commit a crime and flee – that they will be brought back to face justice.” Glendale police and U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, have been trying to persuade Armenian authorities to return Khanzadyan to the United States. The two nations don’t have a formal extradition treaty, and the Armenian government has declined, despite cooperation on previous extradition requests. “Although we disagree with the decision, we respect the fact that it’s their decision to make, and we don’t want to see Khanzadyan freed,” said Glendale police Sgt. Ian Grimes, who is aiding Armenian authorities. “If we can’t get him back in the U.S., having him spend time in an Armenian prison is the next best thing,” Grimes said. Last month, Schiff wrote to Armenian President Robert Kocharian pleading for Khanzadyan’s extradition. “We hope they reconsider,” Schiff said in a recent interview. “The murder took place in our community. The witnesses are all in our community. The victim’s family is in our community. It makes no sense to have him tried thousands of miles from here.” The Tsaturyan family left Armenia for Glendale in 1991, when Odet was just 10. “We came for a better life,” her father said. Odet was friendly, outgoing and attentive to her parents and neighbors – the heart of her family. She did administrative work at Glendale Memorial Hospital for eight years and was planning a career in hospice care. “She was my everything,” said her mother, Hrachooe Tsaturyan. “We were like sisters. I work at a convalescent home, and when she (visited), she would say, `My mom is my best friend.”‘ The memory, though, has stung her heart for the past year. “Even if I’m busy at work, she’s constantly on my mind because she visited me there. … It’s very hard, but if we don’t go to work, it would be an even worse situation.” It’s the same for her father. “When I leave this door, I get a few minutes of peace,” he said. “The second I come back in, it’s the same story. … For me to even recover 10 percent from this situation, he would have to be brought back for trial.” Grimes holds out hope that Khanzadyan still could be tried on U.S. soil. “The fact that he has been tried in Armenia does not preclude him from being tried in the United States,” he said. “In California, murder cases are never closed unless they’ve been adjudicated. … We haven’t given up hope.” Odet would have turned 25 on Aug. 1 – a difficult time this year for her parents and younger brother. “It was the second time since Odet’s death that left the worst impression, because you can’t believe it,” Shagen Tsaturyan said. “You remember everything about her,” Hrachooe Tsaturyan said. “Like last year, on her birthday, she said, `You have to take me out.’ We went to Universal City Walk.” This year, the family gathered at her grave at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale. Staff Writer Alex Dobuzinskis contributed to this report. [email protected] (818)546-3304160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img