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Officials Call On Feds To Probe Murder Suspect's Release

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — City Councilman Paul Krekorian called Wednesday for a federal investigation into the decision by a Puerto Rican judge to release a North Hollywood murder suspect who has since gone missing.

Krekorian introduced a motion calling on the Los Angeles congressional delegation and Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, both D-Calif., to push for an investigation by the FBI and other relevant federal agencies.

"I cannot comprehend any justification for this judge to release a murder suspect who may be responsible for brutally taking an innocent life over nothing more than a text message," Krekorian said. "This bail decision is so completely contrary to standard protocol it defies any explanation based on law, evidence or justice."

Mike Yepremyan, 19, was shot and killed in a Sears parking lot in November 2009.

Puerto Rican Judge Gloria Maynard allowed 23-year-old Zareh Manjikian, the primary suspect in the murder, to post $50,000 bond in late May, despite specific protests by the LAPD. District Attorney Steve Cooley had also requested Manjikian's extradition to Los Angeles, according to Krekorian.

Federal marshals were searching for Manjikian, who was living in a beach town apartment in Carolina, near San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Investigators believe Manjikian shot and killed Yepremyan in a series of events that started with Yepremyan sending a text message.

Yepremyan allegedly sent a text message to his girlfriend insulting her friend, Kat Vardanian. Prosecutors said Vardanian saw the text message, was angry and called her brother to beat up Yepremyan.

Witnesses said Yepremyan received phone calls from a stranger who wanted to meet him outside Sears in the 6400 block of North Laurel Canyon Boulevard, near Victory Boulevard.

When Yepremyan and several friends arrived at the parking lot there were two men. The conversation appeared to reach a peaceful conclusion, but somebody struck Yepremyan. Officials said Manjikian pulled out a gun and shot Yepremyan in the back of the head.

Manjikian and the other man, who was identified by prosecutors as Vahagn Jurian, 23, sped off in a black BMW. Jurian's father said that a day after the shooting his son had called and described his involvement in a deadly fight.

Jurian was arrested in his Van Nuys home last week on suspicion of murder.

Kerkorian's motion also asks the city go on record requesting that Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno and Attorney General Guillermo Somoza-Comobani direct all necessary resources and attention to Manjikian's recapture.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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