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TEENS TO STAND TRIAL AS ADULTS.

Byline: Alex Roth Daily News Staff Writer

Two San Fernando Valley teens will be tried as adults in the killing of a Taft High School student who ``was literally butchered to death in the streets of Encino,'' a judge ruled Tuesday.

Sylmar Juvenile Judge Morton Rochman rejected the arguments of celebrity attorneys Robert Shapiro and David Kenner that the two teen-agers had almost no involvement in the stabbing death of Abtin Tangestanifar, 17.

Rochman said the crime showed ``a complete lack of regard for human life.'' Tangestanifar was stabbed 11 times outside a birthday party in an affluent Encino neighborhood May 31. A coroner's report said two knives may have been used in the attack.

Six teen-agers have been charged in the youngster's death, which police said occurred during an alcohol-fueled dispute between two groups. Prosecutors contend some of six accused teen-agers - many of whom attended private Armenian schools - had gang affiliations.

Sayat Oruncakciel and Michael Aintablian, both now 18, are charged with first-degree murder with the special circumstance of lying in wait, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of life without parole. Had the case remained in juvenile court, they would have faced maximum punishment of prison until age 25.

The judge's ruling came after a hearing in which even the probation officers testified to the defendants' good character.

Deputy probation officer Jerome B. Hanken called Oruncakciel ``a pretty good kid, basically.'' And Deputy Probation Officer Judith Bloch called Aintablian ``a wonderful person.'' Both agreed the two teens were capable of rehabilitation.

Kenner argued that Oruncakciel played no role in the fight leading to the killing. And Shapiro contended that the only evidence offered against Aintablian is that he yelled: ``Do what you've got to do, I've got your back'' before the stabbing.

Shapiro said his client uttered the ``stupid'' statement without realizing someone was about to pull out a knife and start stabbing. He argued that trying Aintablian as an adult ``goes against every concept of justice.''

Neither teen-ager has a prior criminal record.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Steven R. Belis called the killings ``a heinous crime'' and said the victim's 13-year-old brother is so devastated he's begun wearing his dead brother's clothes.

The judge said the victim ``presented no physical threat to anybody'' and yet was ``literally butchered to death in the streets of Encino.''

The teen-agers will remain housed in Juvenile Hall until their Superior Court trial.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 29, 1998
Words:404
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