A Newport Beach pot dealer was sentenced to life in prison Friday for the kidnapping and mutilation of a Southern California marijuana dispensary owner who was found in the Mojave Desert after a harrowing abduction.

Hossain Nayeri, who gained fame by staging a daring escape from the Orange County jail while awaiting trial, was sentenced Friday to two consecutive life-without-parole prison terms for the brutal kidnapping and torture.

Nayeri, 41, was convicted in August of last year and has cycled through several defense attorneys since firing the attorney who represented him at trial. He spoke in court Friday during his sentencing hearing.

“Justice has been distorting reality,” Nayeri said. “We have laws and we know it. Wanting to hurt is not me. I am evolving and improving.”

The victim also spoke in court.

“What kind of human being does this?”

Nayeri, who vociferously proclaimed his innocence from the witness stand during the trial, insisting he was being “railroaded” and set up as a fall guy by police and prosecutors, showed no reaction when the verdicts were read.

Prosecutor Matt Murphy, who retired and had his last day at work as the trial wound down, said Nayeri was as “maniacal a criminal defendant as I’ve ever had.”

Nayeri and two other men broke into a Newport Beach home where the dispensary owner was renting a room at about 2:30 a.m. Oct. 2, 2012, Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown said during the trial. The trio of masked assailants kidnapped the dispensary owner and Mary Barnes, the homeowner, Brown said. The man had a shotgun pointed in his face, and when he tried to brush it aside, “the beating began,” Brown said.

According to prosecutors, the culprits were motivated by greed, mistakenly believing that the dispensary owner had buried roughly $1 million in the desert.

“There’s no doubt the motive in this case was money — a million dollars,” Brown said in her opening statement. “In fact, a million dollars the victim didn’t have.”

During the abduction in Newport Beach, the man was “kicked and choked to the point he defecated in his pants,” Brown said.

>> WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE EVERY AGENCY IS LOOKING FOR YOU, GUNS DRAWN, READY TO SHOOT, YOUR CHOICES BECOME VERY LIMITED. >> THAT IS A SUSPECTED MASTERMIND OF AN ORANGE COUNTY JAILBREAK. IT SPARKED A WEEK LONG CRIME SPREE AND A MASSIVE MANHUNT FOR THESE THREE ESCAPED PRISONERS. TONIGHT FOR THE FIRST TIME, ADAM NAIERI IS TELLING NBC4 VIKKI VARGAS ABOUT A DARING ESCAPE AND RARE JAIL HOUSE INTERVIEW. >> Reporter: ADAM SAYS THE SECURITY THAT SURROUNDS HIM IS MUCH TIGHTER THAN BEFORE HE ESCAPED FROM JAIL. >> Iu2019M PRACTICALLY NAILED TO THE GROUND. >> Reporter: HE IS HERE BECAUSE HE IS ACCUSED OF TORTURE AND MAYHEM, AND WHILE ON THE RUN, KIDNAPPING. >> YOU FIGURE YOU BREAK OUT, YOU HAVE TO GO SOMEWHERE. >> Reporter: HE RAN, HE SAYS, TO A PLACE HE KNEW BEST. >> FRIDAY NIGHT IN SAN FRANCISCO. SPECIAL FRIDAY NIGHT IN SAN FRANCISCO. >> Reporter: HE TOLD NBC4 HIS BROTHER LIVES IN THE CITY, BUT SAYS HE DID NOT REACH OUT TO HIM. >> I WOULDNu2019T RISK HIM. I WOULDNu2019T PUT HIM UNDER THAT KIND OF A DURESS, NO, IT WOULDNu2019T BE FAIR TO HIM. >> Reporter: WE SPOKE TO THE IRANIAN-BORN MAN INSIDE THE THEO LACY FACILITY WHERE HE SPENDS 23 HOURS A DAY IN HIS CELL. THERE WERE EIGHT DEPUTIES SURROUNDING US DURING THE ONE-HOUR INTERVIEW. >> REMAIN SEATED AND DONu2019T REACH ACROSS, OKAY? UNDERSTOOD? >> YES. >> Reporter: HE WANTED TO TALK ABOUT THE DAYS HE AND THE OTHER TWO SPENT ON THE RUN. HE SAYS HE WATCHED NEWS REPORTS, KNEW THERE WAS A NATIONWIDE MANHUNT, AND WONDERED IF HEu2019D BE KILLED. >> WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE EVERY AGENCY IS LOOKING FOR YOU, GUNS DRAWN, READY TO SHOOT, YOUR CHOICES BECOME VERY LIMITED. >> Reporter: NOW HE IS CHARGED WITH CRIMES THAT COULD BRING TWO LIFE SENTENCES. HE IS THE SON OF A PHYSICIAN AND A LAWYER, BUT SAYS HE PAYS FOR MOST OF HIS LEGAL DEFENSE NOW. DURING OUR INTERVIEW, HE NEVER DENIED HE HAD PREVIOUSLY SOLD MARIJUANA FOR A LIVING, BEFORE IT WAS LEGAL. NBC L.A..COM REPORTED JASON CANDELL ASKED ONE LAST QUESTION. >> I WANT TO CIRCLE BACK BECAUSE IT RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT A POT DEALER. HOW GOOD DID YOU DO? HOW MUCH DID YOU BRING IN? >> GOD BLESS AMERICA. LETu2019S JUST LEAVE IT AT THAT. >> NO RESPONSE. >> WATCHING TOMORROW ON NBC L.A..COM IS OUR SIX-PART SERIES ON THE O.C. JAILBREAK. TAKING AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE CASE INVOLVING KIDNAPPING, TORTURE AND MAYHEM THAT PUT HIM BEHIND BARS IN THE FIRST PLACE.”,”video_id”:”1160311875874_939″,”video_length”:”158125″,”video_provider”:””,”alleypack_schedule_unpublish”:””,”feed_remote_id”:””,”feed_thumbnail_url”:””}” data-livestream=”false” data-title=”Man Accused in Jailbreak Talks About Days on the Run” data-vidcid=”1:9:133492″ data-vidurl=”https://www.nbclosangeles.com/on-air/man-accused-in-jailbreak-talks-about-days-on-the-run_los-angeles/133492/” data-islead=”false” data-catnames='{“759974″:”On Air”}’ data-tagnames=”{}” data-customdata=”{}” data-autoplay=”false” data-cplay=”true”>

Then one of the men took out a kitchen knife and slashed off the man’s penis, which was never found, the prosecutor said. They left the knife, telling Barnes if she could find it, she could free herself before dying, Brown said.

After they drove off, Barnes nudged her blindfold off with her knees and managed to find the knife, which she used to undo the zip ties binding her feet, but she couldn’t cut off the ones on her hands, Brown said.

Unable to get her roommate free of his bonds, she ran barefoot about a mile through the desert to a highway, where a Kern County sheriff’s deputy saw her and helped get the man to Antelope Valley Medical Center.

A break in the investigation came courtesy of a neighbor who saw a suspicious pickup truck near the victims’ home about the time of the abduction and took down a license plate number, which led police to co-defendant Kyle Handley, 40, who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole for his part in the crimes.

Handley, a marijuana grower who had sold the product to the dispensary owner, had been a guest of the victim when he went on gambling trips to Las Vegas, but they had fallen out of touch, Brown said.

Handley went to high school in Fresno with Nayeri and other defendants in the case, the prosecutor said. A zip tie found at Handley’s Fountain Valley home was linked to co-defendant Ryan Anthony Kevorkian, 40, who is awaiting trial, Brown said. Co-defendant Naomi Rhodus (formerly Naomi Kevorkian) is also pending trial on several felony counts, accused of participating in the plan.

A glove found in Handley’s pickup truck had DNA on it matching Nayeri, Brown said.

Nayeri’s name rang a bell with investigators as he had led Newport Beach police on a high-speed chase on Sept. 26, 2012, before getting away. The Chevrolet Tahoe used in the chase was still in the impound yard as police were investigating the abductions, Brown said.

Nayeri’s then-wife, Cortney Shegarian, attempted to retrieve the vehicle, leading police to eventually persuade the then-law school student to cooperate with authorities.

Shegarian, who had been estranged from Nayeri’s family, attended an uncle’s funeral in Spain and re-established ties with his relatives in an effort to help authorities in a ruse to get Nayeri out of Iran, a country from which he could be extradited, Brown said.

The Iranian native, who grew up in Fresno, eventually agreed to get on a plane and was arrested in Prague in the Czech Republic, she said.

Nayeri’s former attorney, Sal Ciulla, suggested in his opening statement that Kevorkian and Handley were the ones who masterminded the abduction and that his client was not involved.

Nayeri testified in his own defense during the trial, insisting he had no role in the abduction and torture. He admitted spending months monitoring the victim’s movements through surveillance and GPS equipment, but said Handley was paying him to do so.

He accused investigators of planting evidence to incriminate him, and he said he fled to Iran simply out of fear.

After being arrested, Nayeri made headlines for staging a daring escape from the Orange County Jail with two other inmates in January 2016 and remaining on the lam for eight days. Nayeri testified that he felt he had no choice, and anyone else would have done the same “if you got railroaded as bad as I have.”

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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