Innocently Convicted

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On February 25, 2009, my family's life changed forever. Having a perfect family and perfect life ultimately morphed into a nightmare that is yet to end. My brother Arpiar Tergalstanyan, whose birthday is on February 10, was arrested two weeks after his 19th birthday. He was arrested on charges for a murder which he never committed. My brother, who is one of the sweetest and most genuine people, was never in trouble before this incident, nor had anyone else in my family. Not knowing what to do or who to turn to after his arrest, we hired an attorney through word of mouth. We later found out, after our suspicions were provoked by witnessing his lack of involvement, lack of interest and constant naps that would take place during the trial, that this particular attorney specialized in DUI cases and had never worked on a criminal case. Moreover, he had also never been involved in a trial case. Furthermore, he did not disclose his professional history or past to us which was negligent and against his duty as a professional in the State of California. After further investigation, we came to find out that our lawyer, the same lawyer that was suppose to fight to keep an innocent young man out of jail for a crime he did not commit, had a record himself and had his professional license suspended in the past. He had been arrested because he was found in possession of cocaine and was also involved in a drunk driving incident that resulted in an accident with an innocent driver. Sadly, thinking this was the worst of this man's past, we also came to find out many other things that we should have known before his negligent actions took place in the courtroom and resulted in an innocent man being sent to prison for 15 years to life. We also found out that our lawyer had also been under the influence of cocaine throughout the trial. Through many more similar negligent actions, with other clients he represented, this lawyer has since been disbarred by the State Bar of California and has been unable to practice law in the past seven years.

My brother, due to our lack of knowledge in the justice system and unfortunate selection of a lawyer was charged with second degree murder. His punishment, fifteen years to life in prison. It was implied during his trail that he had been the getaway driver for the man who allegedly fired the weapon. The evidence to prove my brother's guilt was simply not there. When the tire marks on the street were tested, those did not match the tires of my brother's car. If there needed to be proof that my brother was not at the scene of the crime, it existed. He, along with his girlfriend and her family, were all at his girlfriend's house the night of the incident. Unfortunately, the attorney never put my brother's girlfriend on the stand, or brought any of this information to light throughout the trial. Thus, an alibi with proof of his whereabouts were all neglected throughout the trial. In addition, when searching for a motive, one was never found because my brother had never met nor had any relations with the woman who was murdered. Furthermore, the one witness on this case, the deceased woman's boyfriend, also said that he did not know my brother and had never seen him before.

Along with my brother, there were two others arrested for this crime. One of the defendants was dismissed during a separate trial. She was accused of being the mastermind, but was miraculously released on probation. The second defendant, whose trial was merged with my brother's, was charged with first degree murder. Throughout this case there was also no weapon found to link this man to this murder.

After the devastating trial concluded, with life sentences being given, we became aware of a plea deal that was offered to my brother. Our lawyer was approached with a plea deal by the District Attorney for a sentence of 13 years with 85% to be served which our lawyer denied. Unfortunately, our lawyer never shared this information with our family, or discussed and explained this option to my brother. The District Attorney on this case believed that my brother was innocent. He noted that our family was a loving one and even wrote us a card.

Living the past 7 1/2 years without my incredible and wrongly accused brother by my side has been one of misery for my brother and our entire family. Making the best of the circumstances, my brother has chosen to continue his education while in prison. He has received multiple certificates and degrees throughout his incarceration. The hopes and dreams of my brother should not die in a place where he does not belong. We beg you to help us get him out of prison after years of serving time for a crime he did not commit. We have realized our family's mistakes and our failure to find him the right attorney at a critical time. Our lack of understanding and knowledge, at that time, has lead my brother to suffer for nearly eight years now. We do not wish to spend our country's hard earned tax payer money on another trial. We instead ask for his plea deal to be reinstated since it was never disclosed to us in the first place. Had we had known of this deal at the time of the trial, my brother would now be at home with us, where he belongs.