Judge Drops St. Mary’s Hate Crime Allegation

Man remains accused of damaging a religious monument

BY VERONICA ROCHA  | veronica.rocha@latimes.com
From the Glendale News-press

GLENDALE — Citing insufficient evidence, a Superior Court judge struck down a hate crime allegation Wednesday against a 23-year-old man accused of smashing a religious monument at St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Patrick Hegarty also struck down a misdemeanor charge of possessing tools with the intent to commit vandalism filed against Glendale resident Victor Petrescu, said district attorney spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales.

Hegarty upheld a felony vandalism charge along with an enhancement for damages exceeding more than $50,000, she said.

Petrescu is scheduled to be arraigned on the charge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pasadena on Oct. 13, Davila-Morales said.

Attorney Garo Ghazarian, vice chairman of the Armenian Bar Assn. who saw a portion of the hearing, said Hegarty struck down the hate crime allegation due to Petrescu’s potential mental state during the incident.

Petrescu had been originally charged with vandalism against a church, but prosecutors later amended the complaint to include the hate crime allegation after further review.

Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa had also asked prosecutors to reconsider the evidence for the hate crime enhancement.

Armenian community members expressed concerns about Petrescu’s actions and wanted assurances that the case was looked at closely.

“It prompted a very detailed investigation on our part and very careful reevaluation of the facts by the police department,” De Pompa said at the time.

Police officials declined to comment Wednesday on the judge’s action.

But Mayor Ara Najarian said the judge’s ruling was troubling, and may signal to the community that a person can avoid serious punishment for attacking an Armenian church.

“I think it just sends a terrible message to the community,” he said.

Two Glendale police detectives spotted Petrescu on Aug. 11 using a sledgehammer on the church’s cross-stone on the 500 block of South Central Avenue before they chased and arrested him.

The monument, donated to the church in 2001 to commemorate the day 1,700 years ago that Armenians adopted Christianity, sustained an estimated $80,000 in damages to its carvings, church officials said.

A spokesman for the church could not be reached for comment.


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One Comment;

  1. Samuel Darbinian said:

    The person with sledgehammer moved in armenian church yard, & many times strock to historical monumu-
    ment, intended to demolish, with sledgehammer as a wipon, the fact is this person shuld not come there with that sledgehmmer, in first place, the only thing has motivated him was hate & dislike pushed him to do
    so bring $80000 loses,
    Also in this case sledgehammer used as awipon for destroying, the action & porpuse never implys as a tool
    simple example kitchen knife is a tool but when used for killing someone, You call tools has been utilized?
    live alone the victime & remember vandalism is defacing something with paint, ink, or slight scrachs not a