VISTA — A year and a half after the brutal murder of a young man from San Marcos, his loved ones are preparing for this tragedy to move into the hands of the justice system with the commencement of his accused assailant’s trial.
Court proceedings began this week in Vista Superior Court in the death of Aris Keshishian, 20, who was fatally stabbed in August 2021 near his San Marcos home.
The District Attorney’s Office has charged Kellon Razdan, 21, a former elementary school classmate of Keshishian, with first-degree murder in the slaying.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Keshishian was walking his dog near his home in the 1100 block of Via Vera Cruz when Razdan appeared, chased him and stabbed him 44 times in a driveway. Razdan fled in his car after a neighbor came to the scene, and family members discovered Keshishian shortly before he died from his injuries.
After two days of jury selection, the court was set for opening statements in the trial Wednesday morning. The trial is expected to last until around Feb. 16 under Judge Kelly C. Mok.
Keshishian’s older sister, Adrineh, said the past year and a half has been like a never-ending nightmare for herself and her parents, Henrik and Guyaneh. For them, true justice is impossible since their son and brother cannot be brought back.
“Nothing ever is going to bring justice to our family. This is about a beautiful and innocent human being, with a soul enriched by compassion and integrity, whose life has been violated,” Adrineh said. “No justice on earth will cover this loss nor serve as appropriate retribution. All I can say is that for the sake of humanity, he should be locked up for the rest of his life.”
Now 27, Adrineh said she can still remember being six years old and feeling too excited to sleep the night before her baby brother was born and the joy she felt at meeting him at the hospital.
As Keshishian grew, his sister watched him become a caring, loving and goofy person with many passions — playing guitar, and basketball, cooking, building things around the house, and watching classic black-and-white films.
“I wish I could relive every one of my moments spent with him,” Adrineh said. “I’ll be wishing I could’ve done something to save him every minute of every hour of every day for the rest of my life. His life, his orbit, carries something extraordinary, and sharing a life with him is the greatest joy of my existence.”
Keshishian loved animals and his family; he was proud of his Armenian culture and faith and loved making people laugh. His father called him a “kid at heart.”
‘An exuberant soul’
Keshishian attended Discovery Elementary, San Elijo Middle and San Marcos High School, where he graduated in 2019. He was a student at Mira Costa Community College that fall and hoped to attend UCLA and potentially enter the medical field, Adrineh said.
The Keshishian family enjoyed traveling, celebrating and eating together and were always close-knit. A few months before his death, their family held a 50th birthday celebration for his mother, Guyaneh.
The two of them were especially close, and he used to tell his mother, “when my flower is not blooming, you make it bloom, and when my heart is small, you make it big.”
“In reality, he was the one who made us bloom and made our hearts big,” Guyaneh said.
Along with his family, Keshishian was deeply loved by his friends, many of whom he had known since elementary school. Several of his friends now wear patches on their hats with his nickname, Goji, to honor his memory.
Sean Ragland became friends with Keshishian in third grade when they were on the same youth basketball team. From that day forward, they were like brothers, Ragland recalled. When Ragland went off to college in San Francisco, they connected via Facetime almost daily.
“He’s one of the nicest, sweetest people,” Ragland said. “Just having someone that pure, and just thinking about how he lived, now that he’s gone, it really impacts you. It gives you that reason to try to be better and live your life to the fullest.”
Friend Parker Cook, who met Keshishian during his freshman year of high school, said Keshishian helped shape him into the person he is today. Although people have shared different experiences with him, Cook said one thing connects all of them.
“The connection was love — something we all need more of in this life, and Aris was a beacon of it,” Cook said. “His presentation as a human was clean, intelligent and genuinely caring. Someday I will tell my kids about him and emulate his characteristics to them, too.”
Following the attack, Razdan is believed to have returned to his home before taking himself to the hospital, where he presented himself with several injuries on his hands. Razdan told doctors and a deputy that a bicycle chain caused his injuries.
Deputies arrested Razdan immediately after he was discharged from the hospital. According to court documents, he claimed to deputies during later questioning that Keshishian had bullied him over Snapchat, “got really fed up,” and went to confront him.
Searches of Razdan’s phone revealed that he had completed Google searches for “death by sledgehammer,” “how to remove fingerprints,” and “city that doesn’t solve murders” in the days and weeks leading up to the attack. A search of his car found a hatchet, saw, duct tape, rope and cinder block, among other items.
While Razdan and Keshishian attended all the same schools, they were not known to be friends, and the District Attorney’s Office claims there was no evidence they had been in contact leading up to the murder.
Razdan is represented by Kerry Steigerwalt of the San Diego criminal defense law firm Sevens Legal, APC.
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