Vahag Babayan, a Bethesda jeweler charged with murder in the shooting deaths of two men after an armed robbery at his store, posted $10,000 bail yesterday after turning himself in to authorities in Rockville.
Babayan, 27, arrived at the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office around 11:35 a.m. yesterday accompanied by his brother and two attorneys.
Babayan, appearing pale and withdrawn, was photographed and detained for several hours before an afternoon bond hearing.
Last week, a Montgomery County grand jury indicted Babayan for second-degree murder, manslaughter and reckless endangerment in the slayings of Steven J. Powell and Donald Shelton. The Saturday afternoon shooting in downtown Bethesda sent bystanders running for safety as Babayan chased one of the robbery suspects to a parked getaway car.
According to police and witnesses, Babayan ran to the driver's side of the car and fired several shots at the two occupants. The suspects then tried to drive away, crashing into five other cars, police said.
After yesterday's bond hearing, one of Babayan's attorneys, Edward Genn, told reporters his client will be exonerated. "He is not guilty on all the charges," said Genn. Babayan, standing next to Genn, declined to answer questions.
Circuit Court Judge J. James McAuliffe yesterday granted a defense request to purge Babayan's home address from the court records because of intense publicity about the case.
"He has been sought out continuously," Genn said. "He's entitled to a small bit of privacy."
McAuliffe ordered Babayan, a resident alien, not to leave the continental United States pending his trial in December.
Genn told McAuliffe he had taken custody of Babayan's passport and resident alien card. Babayan's father, Vigen Babayan, said the family came here nine years ago from Armenia. Babayan, dressed in a gray suit, spoke only briefly during the court hearing, telling McAuliffe he understood conditions of the bond release. Genn's son, state Del. Gilbert Genn (D-Montgomery), a legislator active in promoting stricter gun control laws, said yesterday he will serve as co-counsel on Babayan's defense team.
Also yesterday, a spokesman for the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association said his group has withdrawn its offer of financial assistance at the request of Babayan's attorneys.