Son Claims Abuse In Trial Over Father’s Murder


Sacramento Bee
Aug 4 2009

Vardan Abramyan, 22, who admitted hiring hitmen to kill his father,
told jurors Tuesday how Norik Abramyan, a 45-year-old unemployed
church pastor, had spent a decade beating and berating him and his
mother and sisters.

The family had emigrated from Armenia, settling first in Los Angeles,
then Fresno and Sacramento, he said.

Under questioning by defense lawyer Donald Levinson, Abramyan said his
father would slap and kick his sisters for not doing their homework
or wearing the wrong clothes.

The man would deliver savage beatings to his wife and then beat his
son when he tried to intervene, he said.

Abramyan showed jurors a scar where he said his father had slashed
him with a kitchen knife as he tried to pry him off his mother.

He testified he believed it was only a matter of time before his
father killed someone.

Abramyan said he had been terrified to go to the police – fearing
his father’s retribution – but wanted his family to be free of what
he described as a life of physical and emotional torture.

At 19, he said, he could see no alternative: His father had to die.

"As much as I wanted him gone, I couldn’t bring myself to do it,"
he said.

In July 2006, he said he paid an acquaintance, Isaiah Dupree Barron,
$4,000 to arrange the hit. Prosecutors allege Barron hired two other
men – Arthur Battle and Jason Dillingham – to kill Norik Abramyan,
paying them $500 each.

Barron and Battle are on trial with Abramyan before Judge James
L. Long. Each defendant has his own attorney, and three separate
juries are hearing the case.

Dillingham has already been convicted and sentenced to life in prison
without parole.

He told jurors he’d helped the killers by luring his father to a
Hollywood Video store off Watt Avenue, near Del Paso Country Club,
under the pretense of renting a video.

While he went into the store, the gunmen approached father’s white
Kia and shot him, he said. Abramyan said he didn’t want to watch
the killing.

After the hit, when he saw his father dead, Abramyan said he felt
sadness but also relief.

"I felt like there was hope now," he testified.

Abramyan’s matter of fact admission left prosecutor Anthony Ortiz
little to do on cross examination but hammer at the defendant about
details of the case – such as whether the suspects had worn blue
bandanas around their faces the night before the killing.

Ortiz undermined the defendant’s assertions that his father would
take most of his wages as a nursing assistant and leave him only a
small amount of money to live on each month.

Abramyan and his sister lived in an $1,100 a month apartment, drove
a new Nissan Maxima, and Abramyan had bought a new Yamaha motorcycle
and a big-screen TV, Ortiz pointed out.

Abramyan – clean cut and wearing glasses, a tie and a sweater vest –
often spoke so softly the judge had to remind him to speak up.

In response to many of the prosecutor’s questions, Abramyan said
he couldn’t remember details of conversations or specific bank

But Abramyan didn’t shy away from the most important point.

"I just wanted him gone," he said.