Fresno man gets 50 years to life in prison for 2008 killing of son's father-in-law

The Fresno BeeJuly 1, 2014 

Nerses Tashchian


A 68-year-old Fresno man was sentenced Tuesday to 50 years to life in prison for killing his son's father-in-law, who was shot while baby-sitting his grandchildren six years ago.

Nerses Tashchian has never said why he killed 61-year-old Souren Avetisian inside a Fresno home on Sept. 7, 2008.

But his attorney, John Missirlian, said Tuesday in Fresno County Superior Court that his client "is saddened by the grief he has caused to his family."

On May 20, a jury deliberated less than an hour before finding Tashchian guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Avetisian.

In announcing the punishment, Judge Wayne Ellison said he was bound by the mandatory prison sentence of 50 years to life.

A motive for the killing was never revealed, but prosecutor Robert Mangano said during the trial that Tashchian's son, Albert, is married to Avetisian's daughter, Kristina. Mangano said Tashchian never liked Avetisian.

Avetisian was baby-sitting his grandchildren when he was shot twice in the face at close range inside a home on Cresta Avenue, south of Barstow Avenue and just west of Highway 99.

After the shooting, a neighbor who heard the gunfire saw Tashchian walking toward his home on Scott Avenue just a few blocks away, Mangano told the jury. Police also found a trail of blood leading to Tashchian's home as well as Tashchian's blood near the victim, Mangano said.

When police arrested Tashchian at his home the next day, he had a severely injured hand. Tashchian told emergency crews that he slammed a car door on his hand. But investigators who checked Tashchian's car found no blood on the doors, Mangano told the jury.

And two days after the killing, Tashchian made incriminating statements to a relative in a recorded jail telephone call, Mangano said. In the call, a relative asked Tashchian what he did with the murder weapon. "I threw it away," he replied, according to a transcript of the call.

Tashchian was tried twice for murder. In his first trial two years ago, a different jury deliberated over four days before it told the judge the panel was hopelessly deadlocked. Eleven of the 12 jurors said Tashchian was guilty of murder -- one vote shy of a conviction.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6434, or @beecourts on Twitter.

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