Judge Asks DA to Explain Motives Behind “Experts”

LOS ANGELES–During a hearing Friday on the Hampig Sassounian retrial at the Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building presiding judge Robert Perry ordered another hearing where the prosecution would have to present a detailed explanation about the gist of the so-called expert witnesses the DA wants to call to bolster its case–if the case goes to retrial.

At the same time–Judge Perry declined to make a decision on whether political assassination comes under the national origin special circumstance provision. However–he was critical of the DA’s foundation on its so-called "expert witness" list and the basis for the those proposed witnesses.

The courtroom was filled to capacity–once again–and security officers were forced to turn back a significant portion of the community members that were at the Courts building from the early hours of the morning Friday. The strong community support has become an encouraging element for Sassounian himself and the defense team–who is urging the community to become more actively involved in the process.

In his argumen’s–Defense Attorney Mark Geragos cited ATF agent Peter Elliot one of the so-called experts listed by the DA–arguing that any testimony provided by this so-called expert cannot be verified the brunt of its would be based on grand jury testimony and wiretap transcripts–to which the defense nor the California courts have access.

"The DA has no direct evidence to try this case–they want to base the entire case on expert witnesses," explained attorney Mark Kassabian of the defense team.

"The court appears to recognize that this a highly unusual approach," added Kassabian.

Sassounian is serving a life sentence without parole for the alleged 1982 murder of Turkish Consul General to Los Angeles Kemal Arikan. In 2000–the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals reversed the special circumstance decision based on apparent jury misconduct and perjured testimony by jailhouse informan’s.

In Sept. 2001–however–months after California State Attorney General opted not to revisit the case and adhere to the 9th Circuit Court ruling–Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley filed a motion to retry the 20-year-old special circumstance portion.


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