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Courts & Trials

Mother Holds Dead Son’s Ashes as Boy’s Father Pleads Guilty to Murdering Him After Disneyland Trip

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A California man pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder after killing his 5-year-old son three months ago following a trip to Disneyland, PEOPLE confirms.

Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, appeared in California’s Alhambra Superior Court before Judge Cathryn F. Brougham and admitted murdering his son, Aramazd Andressian Jr., in late April not long after they visited Disneyland.

Aramazd’s mother, Ana Estevez, was present for Tuesday’s hearing and brought a small white urn with her, containing her son’s ashes, a court official tells PEOPLE.

Andressian is scheduled to be sentenced to 25 years to life on Aug. 23. Authorities believe he killed his son to punish Estevez during volatile divorce proceedings.

After the hearing, prosecutor Craig Hum told reporters the murder was “horribly tragic.” Andressian’s attorney, Ambrosio Rodriguez, also spoke outside the courthouse and maintained that his client did not plan what he called an “awful crime.”

Said Rodriguez: “He is beyond words in regretting having committed such an act.”

Messages left with prosecutors were not immediately returned on Wednesday.

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Rodriguez tells PEOPLE his client may address the court at his impending sentencing.

“Although nothing he can say or do will be able to make up for what he did, my client did confess to police and led them to the body, and, as soon as possible, he pleaded guilty and he has accepted responsibility for what he did,” Rodriguez says. “He did something he will struggle with for the rest of his life. I know he has not even been able to process what he did. Maybe he never will.”

Aramazd Andressian Jr.
LAPD
Aramazd Andressian Sr.
Los Angeles Sheriff's Department

Andressian’s son was last seen on April 20, when he left the theme park with his father and other relatives around midnight. Authorities suspect he was killed shortly after disappearing.

His body was found on June 30 near Cachuma Lake in Santa Barbara County, California — not long after his father was detained for his murder.

Aramazd’s mother, Ana Estevez, reported him missing the day after Andressian failed to show up for a planned custody exchange. Andressian was found unconscious that same day at a park in South Pasadena, California.

Police have alleged that the inside of Andressian’s car was doused with gasoline and there were matches in his vehicle. He reportedly told authorities at the time that he had fallen unconscious after taking medication, and police suspect he was trying to fatally overdose.

Last month, a memorial service for the boy was attended by hundreds of mourners.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Estevez read a letter to her son during the service. She said she was living under an “eternal shadow of devastation and emptiness” now that he’s gone.

“There is no denying you were an extraordinary boy,” she said, the paper reports.