By Giana Magnoli – Contributing Writer
The South Pasadena man accused of killing his 5-year-old son, whose remains were found at Lake Cachuma a month ago, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in a Los Angeles County courtroom Tuesday.
Aramazd “Piqui” Andressian Jr. was last seen alive April 21, leaving Disneyland with his father early that morning. Authorities say the elder Andressian was embroiled in a divorce battle with the boy’s mother, Ana Estevez.
Estevez reported her son missing the morning of April 22 after Andressian failed to return him to her South Pasadena home.
Later that morning, authorities found Andressian alone and unconscious near his vehicle at a South Pasadena park. He claimed he had no knowledge of his son’s whereabouts.
Law enforcement officials told Noozhawk that Andressian was not forthcoming with investigators and gave conflicting statements.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives determined he had driven to Lake Cachuma six hours after leaving Disneyland, which led to numerous searches of the area with the assistance of Santa Barbara County sheriff’s and Parks Division personnel, and the sheriff’s Search and Rescue team.
Nothing was reportedly found in the first searches, but the elder Andressian was arrested on first-degree murder charges on June 23 in Las Vegas.
On July 1, Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators returned to the Lake Cachuma area, where they located the boy’s remains later that day. Authorities have not released additional details about the boy’s cause of death or where his body was found.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Joe Mendoza has cited the couple’s “tumultuous divorce” proceedings as a possible motivation for the murder of their only child.
The case is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, but Dudley said there is evidence that the actual murder occurred in Santa Barbara County, in addition to the body being found near Lake Cachuma.
Dudley said she and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey believed they had joint jurisdiction over the case, since the body was found in Santa Barbara County and events leading up to the murder happened in Los Angeles County.
“The defendant confessed to both murdering his son and confessed where the body could be found,” she told Noozhawk Tuesday.
The boy’s body was found near a vista point, close to the entrance of the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area, she added.
During the investigation, Dudley went down to Los Angeles with Chief Investigator Dave Saunders to meet with the Los Angeles County prosecution staff, and received a presentation on the evidence of the case, she said.
Evidence indicated the actual murder occurred in Santa Barbara County, said Dudley, though she could not say what led investigators to that conclusion.
There was also evidence based in Los Angeles County, of preparatory events and how intent was formed, according to Dudley.
After a meeting and a memo on the jurisdiction issue, Dudley decided Los Angeles County would have jurisdiction.
“I was also concerned who was most likely to get justice for the little boy and his mom,” she said.
“They have an impressive team of lawyers who knew a lot about the case.”
The jurisdictional question is settled officially now that Andressian has entered a plea, she noted.
Andressian is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 23 in the Alhambra Branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Lacey’s office said Tuesday.
“The open plea means a sentence was not negotiated with the District Attorney’s Office,” a statement from the District Attorney’s Office said.
Prosecutors believe Aramazd was killed on or around April 21, which is the day before his mother reported him missing.
“The boy was last seen with his father, who was found unconscious the next day at a park in South Pasadena,” according to the statement.
“On June 23, Andressian Sr. was arrested in Las Vegas and extradited to Los Angeles County to face criminal prosecution for his son’s death. More than two months after the boy’s disappearance, his body was discovered in the Lake Cachuma area of Santa Barbara County.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department led the investigation and Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum is prosecuting the case.