Murder charges have been filed against one of two teenage drivers in connection with a suspected street racing crash in Burbank earlier this month that killed three young people in another car not involved in the apparent speed contest, prosecutors announced Monday.
The suspect — 19-year-old Hamlet Arseni Aghajanyan — has been charged with three counts of murder and one count of reckless driving, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Aghajanyan pleaded not guilty to the charges when he appeared in court for his arraignment Monday.
Prosecutors are still mulling potential charges against the second driver, a 17-year-old who has not been named.
The two are accused of engaging in an apparent street race that resulted in a series of crashes involving multiple vehicles in the area of Glenoaks Boulevard and Andover Drive on the night of Aug. 3, according to the Burbank Police Department.
The 19-year-old was behind the wheel of a Kia while the 17-year-old was driving a Mercedes-Benz, police said.
One of the cars crashed into a Volkswagen that was trying to make a left turn, causing the victims’ vehicle to split in half and burst into flames, according to investigators. Three occupants were ejected from the fiery wreck and died.
They were identified by the coroner’s office as 21-year-old Cerain Anthony Raekwon Baker of Pasadena, 20-year-old Jaiden Kishon Johnson of Burbank, and 19-year-old Natalee Asal Moghaddam of Calabasas.
A fourth victim suffered critical injuries and was hospitalized.
“This tragic and avoidable event was caused by subjects racing vehicles and driving recklessly at very high rates of speed,” police officials said in a news release. “The Burbank Police Department reminds all community members that such reckless acts will not be tolerated.”
After the violent crash, the Kia continued on Glenoaks and struck some vehicles that were parked near Birmingham Road, according to police.
Aghajanyan was seriously injured and hospitalized. He was held on $6 million bail following his arrest last Thursday.
The 17-year-old driver didn’t have injuries and was detained at a juvenile detention facility.
In response to the triple fatal crash, a change.org petition has been started to stop illegal street racing in Burbank.
“Although the accident investigation is still ongoing, many neighbors and city residents took the time to share their concerns and complaints about the long history of illegal street racing in the area,” organizer Karla Mendez wrote on the page. “Most say that this has been an issue in the community for more than a decade. Long time residents are dissatisfied in the lack of results from their complaints. There has been countless incidents over the years but nothing to this magnitude.”
As of Monday morning, the online petition had garnered more than 107,000 signatures.
The petition was shared on social media by famed comedian Tony Baker, whose son Cerain was among the three victims killed in the crash.