A South Pasadena man accused of killing his 5-year-old son after a trip to Disneyland in April pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder.
Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, will be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison when he returns to court on Aug. 23.
The boy’s family audibly wept as the prosecutor read the charges and mentioned the dead boy’s name. Aramazd “Piqui” Andressian Jr.’s mother sat in the courtroom’s front row holding a small white urn.
The boy’s remains were found June 30 near Lake Cachuma in Santa Barbara County after a search that lasted more than two months. Authorities have not released a cause of death for the child.
Andressian is accused of planning the killing to get back at his estranged wife during tumultuous divorce proceedings.
Wearing yellow jail scrubs, he was barely audible as he answered questions about whether he understood his rights and the consequences of his decision to change his plea to guilty. Superior Court Judge Cathryn F. Brougham had to ask him to speak up.
Before he was escorted from the courtroom, Andressian turned and glanced at his estranged wife and her family.
He was arrested June 23 in Las Vegas, where he had stayed on and off since his son’s April 21 disappearance. Investigators said that Andressian had lightened his hair, shaved his beard and appeared to be making plans to travel to a country where he could avoid extradition.
Authorities discovered the child’s remains the same day that Andressian was flown back to California . The boy was last seen alive about 1 a.m. on April 21 as he was leaving Disneyland with his father, aunt and grandmother.
The child’s mother, Ana Estevez, reported him missing the next day after Andressian failed to show up at a planned custody exchange. Andressian was found unconscious in a South Pasadena park with his gray BMW doused in gasoline, and claimed not to know what happened to his son. Authorities said he had tried to kill himself by taking prescription pills that were not his.
Andressian initially was detained, then released because of a lack of evidence. He told Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives that he had gone with his son to the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area in Santa Barbara County.
The detectives found evidence that Andressian was at the lake April 21, but there were no sightings of his son. Authorities suspect the child had been killed shortly after leaving Disneyland, before the father went to the lake.
At a memorial attended by hundreds held in South Pasadena on July 19, Estevez said she was living under an “eternal shadow of devastation and emptiness” without her child by her side.
“There is no denying you were an extraordinary boy,” she said.
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10:35 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details from the court hearing.
This article was originally published at 10:05 a.m.