Three Men in Deadly Street Race Crash Sentenced

Three people charged in connection with a Feb. 26 street race in Chatsworth that killed two spectators learned their fate in court on Monday.

Karen Balyan, 43, the man behind the wheel of the souped-up Ford Mustang that veered out of control was sentenced to 12 years in state prison. Two others, Henry Gevorgyan, 22, and Irael Valenzuela, 39, received probation.

The three men had already pleaded no contest to charges ranging from vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence to assault with a deadly weapon. Their sentences were the result of a plea deal.

Valenzuela and Gevorgyan, who each previously pleaded no contest to two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, were both barred from driving through the term of their probations.

All three men were banned from having any involvement in illegal street racing. Prosecutors said Valenzuela "owns a business that amps these cars up for a living."

The plea deals were negotiated on the condition that all three men participated.

The nighttime street race was captured on cellphone video last February in the 21000 block of Plummer Street. The crash killed Eric Siguenza, 26, of Los Angeles, and Wilson Thomas Wong, 50, of Torrance, and injured another spectator.

The Mustang careened out of control after the start of the race, slamming into a crowd, killing two spectators. Valenzuela was driving a Nissan GT-R that was racing the Mustang. Gevorgyan owned the Mustang. None of them stuck around afterward to face police.

Marisa Meneses, Wong's niece, said outside of court Monday that the defendants got off easy.

"I do not think that it was appropriate," she said. "I think, for taking two lives, the sentence should have been much longer."

George Mgdesyan, Gevorgyan's attorney, said it was a tragic accident.

"The message would be to stay away from stuff like this," Mgdesyan said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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