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Four convicted in North Hollywood text-message killing

August 3, 2012 |  7:59 pm

This post has been corrected. Please see the note at the bottom for details.

Two men have been convicted of murder in connection with a 2009 killing over an insulting text message.

Zareh Manjikian and Vahagn Jurian, both 25, were found guilty Friday of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit assault in the shooting death of 19-year-old Gombert “Mike” Yepremyan in North Hollywood.

Two other defendants, Hovik Dzhuryan, 20, and Khatun Vardanian, 23, were convicted of conspiracy for their role in the incident, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Prosecutors alleged that the four plotted to kill Yepremyan after he insulted Vardanian in a text message to his girlfriend. Vardanian saw the message and called her brother, asking him to have the sender of the message beaten up, authorities said.

Soon after, Yepremyan reportedly began receiving phone calls from a stranger who asked him to meet him at a Sears parking lot in North Hollywood. Yepremyan drove with several friends to the parking lot, where authorities said they encountered Manjikian and Jurian.

According to prosecutors, Jurian struck the 19-year-old, and Manjikian pulled out a gun and shot him in the head.

Jurian and Manjikian were international fugitives until they were arrested separately in 2011.

Manjikian faces a sentence of 50 years to life in prison, and Jurian faces 26 years to life. The other two defendants face five-year terms.

A sentencing hearing will be held Aug. 29.

[For the record, Aug. 3, 2012, 9:02 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Zareh Manjikian and Vahagn Jurian were found guilty Friday of conspiracy to commit murder.]


It was the text of their lives

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-- Kate Linthicum