Preliminary Hearing Set for January in Fatal Glenoaks Car Accident

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Friends and family gathered at the site of the accident at Glenoaks and Andover in November, 2021 for the unveiling of a utility box mural in honor of the victims killed (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Both the criminal and civil cases arising from the Aug. 3, 2021, fiery car racing crash on Glenoaks Blvd. that killed Jaiden Kishon Johnson, 20, Natalee Asal Moghaddam, 19, and Cerain Baker, 21, have been moving slowly through the court system to the present day.

A criminal case against one of the two drivers, 19 years old the day of his arrest, Hamlet Arseni Aghajanyan, is due for a Jan. 9, 2024, preliminary hearing with a trial date to be set later, according to LA prosecutor Ryan Erlich, who is handling the case. Aghajanyan, who has remained in jail on $6 million bail since his arrest two weeks after the accident, is being charged with three counts of vehicular murder and one count of reckless driving.

An unnamed 17-year-old second driver at the time of the accident, whose vehicle also struck the car, killing its three occupants, is being prosecuted in juvenile court, which has been part of the controversial policy of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon since he took office in Jan. 2021. Gascon has also eliminated cash bail for suspects and has downgraded the charges against many habitual criminals in what he terms moves to balance racial inequity in the justice system. An attempt was made to recall Gascon after many LA area police officers and district attorneys spoke out against his policies, but it failed to obtain enough signatures. Gascon is up for re-election in 2024.

A wrongful death civil lawsuit against both drivers of the racing cars, as well as Los Angeles County and the City of Burbank, was brought by Nichole Richardson, the mother of Jaiden Kishon Johnson, one of the three victims of the deadly crash. The civil suit filings, which have been consolidated into one case, contend that neither government entity did anything to “deter or prevent illegal street racing, despite having the means and ability to do so.” All three victims of the lethal crash were described as decent young people with bright futures who had their “dreams and goals taken away prematurely,” according to Nichole Richardson.

Glenoaks Blvd. has been described by many in Burbank as long having been the site of high-speed drag races, which local authorities have been unable to deter. Some blame car racing movies such as the “Fast And Furious” franchise, as well as car racing video games, for the recent surge of real-life high-speed car races such as the one that tragically killed three young people in Burbank on Aug. 3, 2021.

Since the accident, Burbank police have formed regular enforcement patrols to patrol Glenoaks and several streets known for high speeds.

Burbank police officers who investigated the scene of that accident described it as one of the worst they had ever seen.