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2 Men Face Sentencing for Valley Plaza Text-Message Killing

Convicted in August, Zarek Manjikian and Vahagn Jurian are looking at long prison terms.

Two Van Nuys men will be sentenced to long prison terms Friday for the execution-style slaying of a Granada Hills man in November 2009 over an insulting message he sent to a woman.

Zarek Manjikian and Vahagn Jurian, both 25, were convicted on Aug. 3 of first-degree murder in the Nov. 18, 2009, slaying of Gombert "Mike" Yepremyan. Jurors also found true an allegation that Manjikian had personally used a gun.

Manjikian is facing 50 years to life in state prison, while Jurian is facing 26 years to life, according to Deputy District Attorney Edward Nison.

The two are set to appear this afternoon before Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Gregory Dohi, who is expected to first consider motions by the defense for a new trial.

Manjikian and Jurian also were convicted along with Jurian's cousins, Hovik Dzhuryan, 20, and Khatun Vardanian, 23, of conspiring to commit assault with great bodily injury. Dzhuryan and Vardanian are each facing up to five years behind bars.

The four were indicted in September 2011 by a Los Angeles County grand jury. The indictment alleged that Vardanian contacted her brother, Dzhuryan, about a text message in which Yepremyan referred to her as a "bitch," and that she told him to assault Yepremyan.

Dzhuryan, Jurian and Manjikian set up a meeting with the victim, who had received several telephone calls asking why he had made the comment about Vardanian, according to the indictment.

About 3 1/2 hours after the text message was sent, Manjikian and Jurian met with the victim at a Sears parking lot at the intersection of Victory and Laurel Canyon boulevards in North Hollywood, Nison said.

Yepremyan was struck in the face and then shot in the back of the head with a 9 mm handgun during the confrontation.

Jurian has remained jailed since his June 2011 arrest.

Manjikian was arrested in Puerto Rico last year, but despite pleas from Los Angeles prosecutors, a judge allowed him to post a $50,000 bond and he was released, only to disappear again. He remained on the run until just over a year ago when he turned himself in at the Van Nuys courthouse.

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