New Testimony Points to Driver’s Intent in Death of Emily Shane

Sina Khankhanian said in the minutes after the crash that 13-year-old Emily Shane deserved to die, a firefighter testified.

A firefighter testified Friday that a man accused of killing a 13-year-old Malibu girl said he believed she deserved to die, just moments after the crash.

The testimony came on the third day in the retrial of Sina Khankhanian, who faces a second-degree murder charge in the April 2010 death of Emily Shane on Pacific Coast Highway near Heathercliff Road in Malibu.

Doug Smith, a Los Angeles County firefighter who responded to the crash, testified that he went to check on Emily, who had been flung onto a nearby hill from the force of the impact, before going down to see if Khankhanian was hurt.

Smith said that he had to free Khankhanian from his Mitsubishi, which was lying on its side, by removing the windshield with an ax.

Deputy District Attorney Marna Miller asked what Khankhanian’s demeanor was while Smith freed him from the wreck.

“He was angry and hostile. He had an angry facial expression and bulging eyes. He was verbalizing colorful metaphors in a hostile and angry way,” Smith said.

Miller asked Smith to specify what words Khankhanian used.

“The [expletive] deserved it. The [expletive] deserved to die,” Smith recalled, adding that Khankhanian knew that he had struck a female.

“I asked him, are you OK?” Smith said, adding that “he made it clear he was fine.”

Under cross-examination, defense attorney Bradley Brunon asked the firefighter why he had not testified about this exchange in the preliminary hearing or the first trial.

“I was never asked,” Smith said.

Brunon peppered Smith with a series of questions about the firefighter's recollection, at times drawing objections from the prosecutor.

“I heard what he said. I can only share the truth,” the firefighter said.

Deputy Dustin Morales, who is assigned to the Lost Hills/Malibu Sheriff's Station, also took the witness stand and said that he heard Khankhanian say he wanted to kill himself.

"He told me, 'I wanted to run off the road and hit the pole. I did it on purpose," Morales testified.

The deputy added that once Khankhanian was handcuffed, the defendant asked if he had hurt someone, and Morales said he explained Emily had been struck.

Morales recalled that Khankhanian ranted: "I hope she dies. That's why I deserve to die." Morales also testified that Khankhanian said he had four glasses of wine and some perscription pills that day. Toxicology reports later showed that Khankhanian had not been drinking.

Under cross examination, Morales said that he found Khankhanian sitting inside the overturned car, with his arms around his legs.

Morales said Khankhanian was angry and upset, and to calm him down, he asked the driver why he wanted to kill himself.

"He said he wasn't appreciated and he worked at an animal hospital," Morales said.

During opening statements earlier this week, Miller said that Khankhanian was fired two days before the crash that killed Emily, and that he left a suicide note before embarking on a 17-mile drive down Topanga Canyon and PCH.

Miller alleged that Khankhanian purposely struck Emily and that he should be convicted of murder.

Brunon has asserted that Khankhanian, who was diagnosed with autism, could not appreciate that his actions created a risk of death for himself and others. He said during opening statements that Khankhanian made the statements shortly after the crash because of his mental disorder.

He has maintained that his client did not commit murder, and has said previously that a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter is more appropriate to the case.

This is Khankhanian's second trial. A jury earlier this year was unable to reach a verdict after an eight-day trial.

Ted Vaill May 07, 2012 at 11:58 AM
The driver had the intent to kill himself and Emily, as expressed in his suicide note and his spontaneous declaration at the scene. Let him rot in prison. Diminished capacity, no way.
Sandy May 09, 2012 at 05:03 PM
He had autism? It must be on the functionally side of the spectrum. He had a job, he could communicate, he knows right from wrong. And he knows what he did.
Debbie May 24, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Debbie May 24, 2012 at 12:12 AM
What state is that?
Jack June 15, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Legal issues aside this is a tragedy with far reaching consequences. The ripple effect created by this loss to Emily's family and friends will be with them always. My heart goes out to the Shane family. Rest In Peace Emily


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