Student faces murder charges after car crash

Monica Duester

A current student faces two counts each of second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated after he allegedly crashed into the rear end of a car in Encino and killed two people.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office suspects Sean Martin Mishlof, 24, a construction and management technology major, of colliding his 1995 Mercury Mystique into the back of a 1990 Nissan Sentra that was stopped at the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Densmore Avenue after 2 a.m. on June 7, a press release from the DA’s office shows.

The victims, who wore seatbelts, suffered serious head trauma and were pronounced dead at the scene, the press release shows.

Police Sgt. Larry Jones from the Los Angeles Police Department said the crash was so severe that they had to request a device called the Jaws of Life from the heavy rescue team to assist them.

The Los Angeles Fire Department provided Mishlof, who suffered minor injuries, with medical assistance. Police later booked Mishlof, and the DA’s office charged him with several felony counts including murder, said Detective William Bustos of the Valley Traffic Division.

Though Mishlof was to appear in court on June 10 for an arraignment hearing, it was rescheduled to July 3. Prosecutors have requested that the court set his bail at $2 million.

Andrew Flesuras, a CSUN student and Phi Delta Theta alumnus, said he was devastated when he heard the news about Mishlof, his fraternity brother.

“Sean was pledge president back in 2003 when I joined the fraternity, and from then on we’ve been good friends,” Flesuras said. “It’s just hard to think that one of your buddies is in a predicament like this.”

Phi Delta Theta President Scott Watterson, a civil engineering major, said he met Mishlof at the clubs and activities portion of freshman orientation three years ago.

Watterson said he would only answer questions if they were sent to him via e-mail.

“He was the first member of Phi Delta Theta that I met,” Watterson’s e-mail response shows. “It is because of his friendliness and interest in me as a freshman that I considered being a part of the fraternity.”

Mishlof was the fraternity president during the fall 2005 semester when Watterson pledged.

“I try to model my own leadership, as hard as that is, by the way he led,” Watterson’s e-mail response shows.

Flesuras said Mishlof is as a well-liked and respected person throughout the Greek system. He participated in intramural sports, Flesuras said.

In 2005, the Hollywood Knights Celebrity basketball team played against the Associated Students Recreational (ASREC) All-Stars intramural fraternity team in which Mishlof was a star player.

Watterson’s e-mail response indicates Mishlof became a CSUN student in the Fall 2002 semester and an alumnus of the Phi Delta Theta in 2006.

“It is because of his leadership skills that he is able to come to these events and teach active members about how to run a fraternity,” Watterson’s e-mail response shows.

Mishlof grew up in San Mateo where his parents continue to reside. His sister recently had a baby, and friends say he loved being an uncle.

Flesuras said Mishlof was less active in the fraternity after a few years because he was concentrating more on his studies.

“He was excelling in his classes, and his professors really liked him,” Flesuras said.

Mishlof also earned a summer internship with Clark Construction Group, building the second phase of L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles, Watterson’s e-mail response shows. When completed, it is suppose to be the west coast version of Times Square.

Friends that have been able to speak with Mishlof say he is remorseful and that his bright spirit is gone.

“We feel for the families of the men who died because that could have been anyone of us sitting at the light,” Watterson’s e-mail response shows.

“Initially, I was concerned about the health of Sean and then of the others in the car with him,” Watterson’s e-mail response shows. “It felt unreal at first. But when I saw the picture of the car, it confirmed everything.”

Friends say Mishlof, no matter the ultimate outcome of his case, plans to give back to the community by sharing his story with youngsters to prevent similar tragedies from happening.

“Knowing Sean, he will take responsibility for the actions to which he may be guilty of,” Watterson’s e-mail response shows.

Detective Bustos said this is an open and ongoing investigation.

“I have assigned collision investigators to the case but cannot comment on anything,” Bustos said. “Everything will come out in court.”

Flesuras said Mishlof’s parents have sought representation from DUI-specialist Richard Hutton, who represented Paris Hilton in her DUI case a year ago. Hutton works for the Southern California-based firm, Hutton ‘ Wilson.