Byline: Kristi Ellis

LOS ANGELES--Karapet Demirdzhyan was convicted Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court of first-degree murder for the killing of apparel contractor Hakop (Jack) Antonyan.
After six days of testimony, the jury of four women and eight men deliberated less than two hours before reaching a verdict. Antonyan was fatally shot in front of his Glendale, Calif., factory on the night of Nov. 2, 1993.
Defense attorney James Sussman said he would file a motion on March 8 for a retrial. Sentencing will not take place until Judge Jacqueline A. Connor rules on the motion.
Deputy district attorney Ellen Aragon had built a case that portrayed Demirdzhyan as a hit man, killing a contractor--Antonyan--who was getting a significant amount of business from California Fashion Industries at a time when the company, which makes Carole Little clothes, was significantly cutting back the number of its contractors. However, Aragon told the jurors, she could not explain who had hired Demirdzhyan.
Aragon's key witnesses were Garnik (Gary) Antonyan, the victim's brother and business partner, who was present at the time of the shooting, and Karin Wong-Holzinger, former vice president of domestic manufacturing at California Fashion. Holzinger was involved in cutting back the company's contractors, and her Long Beach home was firebombed only hours after the Antonyan killing. No one has been charged in the firebombing.
In the last two years, other violent acts have hit California Fashion executives: Kenneth Martin, director of worldwide sourcing, and Rolando Ramirez, chief financial officer, were both slain in drive-by shootings. Demirdzhyan was in jail at the time of both shootings.
Asked whether she thought she might be successful in determining who was behind the Antonyan murder and the other crimes, Aragon replied, "I'm always hopeful. It has certainly happened in the past that when one domino falls, others fall."
"This could be the beginning of the end [of the mystery surrounding the series of violent acts]," said Jon Perkins, a sergeant with the Glendale, Calif., police department. "We're not finished yet."
Discussing his plan to move for a retrial, defense attorney Sussman said, "There are legal issues that I plan to bring up, such as the admission of the Long Beach evidence."

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