Las Vegas: Killer called ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Nevada)
December 9, 2004 Thursday FINAL EDITION

Killer called ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’


Don’t let Avetis Archanian’s casual and gentle demeanor fool you:
He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
That’s what Clark County prosecutor Greg Knapp told jurors on
Wednesday, asking them to give the death penalty to the sharply
dressed and stone-faced Archanian, who on Tuesday was convicted of
bludgeoning two elderly woman to death during a jewelry heist last
‘He’s sitting here calm,’ Knapp said during his closing argument. ‘He
looks like a meek older man. But he’s not. He was strong enough to
literally crush the life out of two women in a few minutes. He is the
wolf in sheep’s clothing. … What type of person could be so
callous? The answer is the type of man that deserves to forfeit his
Jurors heard tearful testimony from the family of the victims,
86-year-old Juana Quiroga and her 68-year-old daughter, Elisa Del
Prado. Both were fatally beaten at World Merchants-Importers, where
Del Prado was the owner and Archanian an employee who made off with
$250,000 in goods.
‘The harm that we have gone through — and for what?’ said Javier Del
Prado, who occasionally glared at the defendant. ‘My mother gave this
man a job. It’s disgusting that he committed treason against my
family. For what, jewelry?’
Archanian, in a statement read aloud by one of his lawyers, spoke of
Elisa’s ‘smiling face’ and good-hearted nature, and the pleasant ways
of Quiroga.
‘I can’t believe that Elisa and Grandma are not here anymore,’ said
the letter, which was read aloud by defense attorney Mace Yampolsky.
‘My sorrow to the family.’
Several of Archanian’s family and friends testified on his behalf,
describing the longtime jeweler as a giving, nonviolent man who often
provided food, money and shelter to other Armenians in need. He is
married and a father, had no prior criminal record, and feared the
sight of blood, they said. They begged jurors to spare his life.
‘I cannot understand how such a sweet person, someone who has helped
so many, how he could do such a horrendous crime,’ said Mary
Magapetian, a longtime friend of Archanian’s. ‘How could he open
somebody’s skull up? I cannot believe it.’
Jurors are expected to begin their deliberations on Archanian’s
sentence today.