Calif. boy's cause of death revealed as father sentenced in his slaying

Aramazd Andressian Sr. with his son, Aramazd Andressian Jr.

CBS Los Angeles

ALHAMBRA, Calif. -- A California father who admitted killing his 5-year-old son amid a bitter custody battle was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years to life in prison during a hearing where his estranged wife wished him an eternity in hell.

Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, pleaded guilty earlier this month in Los Angeles County Superior Court to first-degree murder in the April death of his son after a family trip to Disneyland.

Andressian smothered his son, Aramazd Andressian Jr., with the boy's own jacket in his car, sheriff's Detective Louie Aguilera said after the hearing Wednesday, the first time investigators publicly divulged how the boy died.

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Aramazd Andressian Jr.

CBS LA

Andressian then sat in the car with the boy's body for eight hours before burying him in a wooded area near Vista Point, reports CBS Los Angeles. He went to a store, went shopping, and then returned to South Pasadena, where he intended to commit suicide.

Authorities have said Andressian killed his son in a plot to get back at his wife, the boy's mother, amid their tumultuous divorce. During the Aug. 1 hearing when Andressian pleaded guilty, Ana Estevez reportedly sat in the audience, carrying her son's ashes in an urn.

"I hope you relive the image of murdering my baby every day of your insignificant life," Estevez told Andressian just before he was sentenced.

"May your dark soul burn in eternal hell," she said.

Estevez also called her husband a failure as a father, a man and a human being.

"There is no real pain, just an incomprehensible deadness. Like my son, I, too, have died," she said.

Andressian had planned to speak during the sentencing hearing, but opted against it when Superior Court Judge Cathryn Brougham told the defendant his testimony would have to be given under oath and subject to cross-examination, the station reports.

He pleaded guilty partly to avoid the possibility of prosecutors adding a charge that could result in the death penalty, his attorney has said.

His attorney, Ambrosio Rodriguez, spoke on Andressian's behalf, saying, "I want to pass on his deep, deep regret and remorse as to what happened," the station reports.

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Aramazd Andressian Sr. at his sentencing hearing, Aug. 23, 2017.

CBS LA

Rodriguez said there were "no words to justify what happened," and said that his client quickly took responsibility for his actions after being arrested, pleading guilty early in the criminal case.

Rodriguez has repeatedly declined to comment when asked why Andressian killed his son but has said the killing was "not planned."

Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum said earlier this month, however, that it's the prosecution's position that "the evidence clearly supports the fact that it was planned, that it was premeditated, it was deliberate, he had this in mind before he actually committed the murder."

Sheriff's investigators believe the boy was killed on April 21. His father was found passed out in a park the next morning, sparking an intensive search for the boy. Andressian had taken prescription pills and was found in a car doused in gasoline in an apparent suicide attempt, sheriff's officials have said.

Andressian Sr. was originally arrested in Los Angeles County shortly after his son went missing, but was later released for lack of evidence, reports CBS Los Angeles. He was re-arrested June 23 in Las Vegas, where he had spent the 47 days prior "socializing," officials said. Officials have also said he changed his appearance and may have been preparing to flee the country.

Investigators searched for more than two months before they found the boy's body on June 30 near Lake Cachuma outside Santa Barbara -- about 145 miles away from Anaheim, where Disneyland is located. Rodriguez has said his client told investigators where to find his son's remains.

A report by the county Department of Children and Family Services obtained by The Associated Press said the boy's skeletal remains were found in a wooded area in Santa Ynez. The report described the boy as being the victim of "physical and severe neglect."