VISTA — Twenty-one-year-old Kellon Razdan was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison for the murder of 20-year-old Aris Keshishian, whose loved ones recounted the pain of his loss during an emotional hearing on Friday at the Vista Courthouse.
Judge Kelly C. Mok handed down the sentence just weeks after Razdan was convicted of the first-degree murder of Keshishian after his February trial.
Keshishian died in August 2021 after being stabbed 44 times by Razdan while on a walk with his dog in his San Marcos neighborhood, in what evidence indicated to be a premeditated attack.
According to Keshishian’s family, the two young men had been acquaintances since elementary school but had not spoken for years as of the attack.
Keshishian’s family members referred to Razdan as a “monster” and said their life has been painful and joyless since his death. He was described as endlessly kind, devoted to his family, funny, talented, hardworking, and caring.
“When that monster murdered Aris, it murdered my entire family. We barely speak with each other. There is nothing to say anymore,” said Henrik, Keshishian’s father, speaking through tears. “He was truly the brightest light and the glue in our family.”
Keshishian’s 28-year-old older sister, Adrineh, told the judge she had changed her last name to Aris to honor her brother. Being his sister was the thing she was most proud of, she said.
“I can imagine that Kellon was jealous of Aris,” she said. “The outrage lies in the fact that Aris couldn’t have been anything but kind to him. I think Kellon sought my brother’s suffering because of his own suffering that he faced.”
While Razdan expressed little remorse during the trial, claiming that he had acted in self-defense and that Keshishian had harassed him on social media, he said at the sentencing hearing that he deeply regretted his actions.
“To the Keshishian family and friends, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize from the bottom of my heart for everything my actions have caused,” Razdan said. “Every day, I am filled with sorrow and anguish that I am the cause of the pain you carry around with you.”
Defense attorney Jay Monico told the court that Razdan had a traumatic childhood before being adopted at age four and that a psychological examination indicated he had schizophrenia at the time of the murder, a diagnosis that was not mentioned at trial.
His mother, Sonia, noted that Razdan had experienced depression since middle school, which he briefly treated with therapy and medication before discontinuing both in his late teens. Sonia also said the people in her son’s life had always known him to be kind and nonviolent, spending some of his free time as a volunteer.
Despite these statements, prosecutor Helen Kim urged the judge to hand down the maximum sentence of at least 26 years in prison.
“The defendant is dangerous and has never expressed shame or sorrow, and he is an unmitigated danger to the public,” Kim said. “This community lost a son, a brother, a nephew, a friend and a neighbor. Aris was not even 21 years old at the time.”
Mok delivered a sentence of 25 years to life for the charge of first-degree murder and one additional year for the use of a deadly weapon charge. Mok said she recognized that this was not a case of self-defense but also that Razdan was just 20 at the time of the offense.
The approximately 500 days he has served in custody will count toward his sentence.
After the hearing, Kim said that she hoped the sentence could bring peace to the community, although she recognizes it will never be enough.
“I know that it’s not what the family wanted, and I know nothing can be done to bring Aris back, but it’s a road to getting the healing process started,” she said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated Adrineh Aris was 26 years old. She is 28 years old. This article has also been updated to provide additional context regarding statements made during the trial and at sentencing about defendant Kellon Razdan’s mental health.
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