The man accused of kidnapping, torturing and sexually mutilating a marijuana dispensary owner with the help of two friends took the stand in his own trial.
Hossein Nayeri is well-known as the alleged mastermind of a 2016 escape from the Orange County jail with two other inmates. The cross examination portion of his testimony tense at times as Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy pressed the defendant.
"Are you going to start telling the truth once in a while?" Nayeri asked Murphy from the stand. The judge reprimanded Nayeri.
The heated exchange reached a boiling point when the judge excused the jury and had Nayeri's attorney calm him down. Nayeri is accused of committing the crimes in 2012 with friends Kyle Handley and Ryan Kevorkian. He told the jury he had no contact with the men until they were all arrested.
"Never spoke to Ryan Kevorkian until I showed up to Orange County, until I showed up to Orange County jail," said Nayeri.
Prosecutors say Handley and Nayeri supplied marijuana to the victim's dispensary. They say the men kidnapped the victim and his female roommate to find $1 million they mistakenly believed was buried in the Mojave Desert. Prosecutors say the men tortured the victim by beating, tazing and burning him during the drive to the desert. Once they reached the desert, it's alleged they poured bleach on the man, then cut off his penis, abandoning both victims tied up in the desert.
The female victim managed to get to the road and flag down a car. Murphy pressed Nayeri on his past, including his experience in the marijuana industry.
"You could consider just about all of them criminals if you want to," responded Nayeri when asked about his involvement in the business.
Before the cross examination, Nayeri's attorney Sal Ciulla asked his client point blank if he participated in the crimes.
"Did you know about it, before it happened?" Ciulla asked.
"Of course not, if I had a clue about it, I probably would've grabbed a... never mind."
Nayeri is expected to continue his testimony when court is back in session on Tuesday.
Jail escapee takes witness stand in kidnap, torture case
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