TRAVEL AGENT GETS 85 YEARS : JUDGE FINDS MURDER COMMITTED IN ROBBERY.Byline: Janet Janet: see Clouet, Jean.
JANET - Joint Academic NETwork Gilmore Daily News Staff Writer
A federal judge sentenced Garen Zakarian to 85 years in prison Monday, saying he based the stiff penalty on a murder that the Glendale travel agent was acquitted of in a state court.
Zakarian was supposed to be sentenced Monday on a conviction in U.S. District Court for robbery and weapons charges. But Judge Stephen Wilson said he agreed with prosecutors that Zakarian faced more than a sentence for those crimes.
``My finding is that there was a murder,'' he said. ``I find that it was both premeditated pre·med·i·tat·ed
Characterized by deliberate purpose, previous consideration, and some degree of planning: a premeditated crime. and (carried out) in the course of a robbery.''
State prosecutors had contended that Zakarian shot rival travel agent Benita Mikailian, 42, in the heart in 1994 and robbed her of airline tickets for 80 of his clients who were stranded strand 1
The land bordering a body of water; a beach.
v. strand·ed, strand·ing, strands
1. To drive or run ashore or aground.
2. in Paris. His attorney said Zakarian was framed by professional hit men.
After 32-year-old Zakarian was found not guilty of murder, federal prosecutors won convictions for robbery and weapons charges.
On Monday, the judge said he could not ignore evidence that Zakarian committed murder. With that finding, the judge chose to use the Hobbs Act The Hobbs Act, codified at 18 U.S.C. 1951, is a U.S. federal law that prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce. , which allowed him to treat the robbery as a murder for sentencing purposes.
Zakarian continued to deny his guilt.``If I didn't do it, I didn't do it,'' Zakarian told the judge. ``In the eyes of God, I cannot lie.''
Zakarian's attorney, Malcolm Gulesarian, told the judge he believed the legislative intent behind the Hobbs Act was to punish pun·ish
v. pun·ished, pun·ish·ing, pun·ish·es
1. To subject to a penalty for an offense, sin, or fault.
2. To inflict a penalty for (an offense).
3. members of organized crime, not people like his client.
``This is absolutely amazing a·maze
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.
2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.
v.intr. ,'' he said outside court, adding that he will appeal the case. He had asked for a 10-year sentence.
This unusual case was marked by successive prosecutions, beginning with the state case against Zakarian for murder.
Next, federal prosecutors charged Zakarian with robbery and weapons charges, arguing in court that murder was carried out in the course of the robbery. The jury convicted Zakarian of weapons charges but deadlocked dead·lock
1. A standstill resulting from the opposition of two unrelenting forces or factions.
2. Sports A tied score.
3. on the robbery charge.
Federal prosecutors tried Zakarian a second time on the robbery charge and that time, in October, a jury convicted him.