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Feds urged to probe how text-message murder suspect was set free on bail

June 13, 2011 |  3:24 pm

In%20the%20months%20after%20his%20son%27s%20death%2C%20Art%20Yepremyan%2C%20above%20left%2C%20with%20his%20wife%2C%20Ani%20Atajyan%2C%20lost%20hope%20that%20police%20would%20find%20a%20suspect.%20They%20did%2C%20but%20he%20has%20now%20vanished.%20%28Mel%20Melcon%20/%20Los%20Angeles%20Times%29

The Los Angeles police union joined calls Monday for a federal investigation into why a judge in Puerto Rico granted bail to a murder suspect who is now on the run.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League called Judge Gloria Maynard's decision last month to release the suspected killer of a Granada Hills teen “shocking and inexplicable.”

In May, authorities tracked down and arrested in a beach town outside Puerto Rico's capital city, San Juan, the man they believe killed Mike Yepremyan, 19, in 2009.

Despite a no-bail arrest warrant issued by authorities in Los Angeles, Zareh Manjikian was released on a $50,000 bond. He hasn't been seen since.

Law enforcement officials, the slain teen’s family and Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian have blasted the release. Attempts to reach the Puerto Rican judge who authorized it have been unsuccessful.

The series of events that apparently led to Yepremyan's November 2009 killing were set in motion when he texted an insult about his girlfriend's friend, who happened to see the message.

Soon after, Yepremyan began receiving mysterious phone calls from a stranger, who eventually instructed him to meet him in a Sears parking lot, where the shooting occurred, witnesses said.

Krekorian introduced a City Council resolution last week calling for a federal investigation.

The police union Monday urged the City Council to “vote without delay to get this matter escalated to the federal level for a thorough investigation of the judge’s decision.”

“The family of Mike Yepremyan and the detectives who have worked tirelessly on this case deserve answers for the judge’s bizarre decision,” the union stated.

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-- Robert Faturechi

Photo: In the months after his son's death, Art Yepremyan, above left, with his wife, Ani Atajyan, lost hope that police would find a suspect. They did, but he has now vanished. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Click to visit The Times' interactive Homicide Report

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