Glendale resident Sparkle Soojian pleaded not guilty to one count of murder in connection with the death of John Michael King-Smith, 31, who was beaten and choked to death in her Glendale apartment a week ago.
Police said the pair knew each other, though it’s unclear how. Soojian’s attorney Daniel Behesnilian declined to comment on their relationship.
He did say, though, that Soojian was “in fear for her life” last week when King-Smith broke into her apartment, leaving her to call her friends for help.
Several people, including Soojian’s 28-year-old boyfriend Jared Kasiewicz, showed up at her apartment on Sept. 10, and a fight ensued. Kasiewicz, who prosecutors say was involved in the beating, pleaded not guilty this week to one count of murder. His attorney could not be reached.
“Sparkle had no physical contact with him,” Behesnilian said, of the victim, adding that Soojian is upset and distraught. “These are serious charges — she is absolutely convinced of her innocence.”
Soojian, a Fresno native, is the heiress of Ak Mak, an international Armenian cracker-bread company started by her grandparents, according to her website.
She has domestic violence and assault charges pending against her stemming from an incident earlier this year in which she allegedly attacked her boyfriend — co-defendant Kasiewicz — with a glass shard, court records show.
Aspiring singer Courtney Argue, 25, was also among those present during the fight after Soojian called her for help, according to her attorney, Alex Kessel.
Argue this week was charged — and pleaded not guilty — to one count of accessory after the fact of murder.
Kessel, denying the allegations against his client, said Argue called 911 and captured some parts of the fight on video.
Around 2 a.m. on Sept. 10, police were called to the apartment, located on the 200 block of West Windsor Road, where King-Smith was reportedly in a state of medical distress. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
If convicted, Soojian and Kasiewicz both face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. Soojian is being held in lieu of more than $1 million bail, while Kasiewicz is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Meanwhile, Argue, who was released after posting $50,000 bail, faces up to three years in prison if convicted.