A convicted pot grower was sentenced to four life sentences without the possibility of parole Friday in the grisly kidnapping, torture and maiming of the owner of a flourishing marijuana collective who was targeted because he and two others thought the victim buried $1 million in the Mojave Desert.
Kyle Handley, 38, was stoic in an Orange County courtroom on Friday as the sentence was pronounced.
Read the back story to this update on one of Orange County's most gruesome crimes
The case goes back more than five years when the Fountain Valley man and two high school friends believed a marijuana dealer, someone he did business with, had stashed cash, prosecutors said. They found no money, but tortured the man, cut off his penis and left him and his roommate for dead in the desert before the two were rescued, authorities said.
The victims likely will never recover from the physical and mental pain.
Orange County Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown read a statement from the male victim in court.
"The damage to my genital area has not only been physically painful it has caused on going mental distress and is a near constant reminder of what happened to me," she read. "I fear I will never have the feeling or sense of being comfortable and carefree ever again."
Handley's attorney, Robert Weinberg, said his client is devastated.
"When he listens to the ruling on part of the court, he essentially says, 'My life is over,'" he said.
The crime was in the works for months after Handley went to Las Vegas with the man twice in the spring of 2012 where they stayed in expensive suites and "had a good time," prosecutors said.
Handley and two others spied on the man using small cameras and GPS trackers that showed the victim making trips to a spot in the Mojave Desert in Kern County, prosecutors said.
Then in the early morning hours of Oct. 2, 2012, the defendants kidnapped the victim and his roommate from their Newport Beach home, tied them up and drove them to the desert, prosecutors said.
With Handley behind the wheel of a rented van, the two other suspects, Hossein Nayeri and Ryan Kevorkian, stomped on the victim, burned him with a torch and shocked him with a Taser, demanding to know where the money was, during the 2 1/2 hour drive to the desert, prosecutors said.
Off a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, they cut off the man's genitals and left the woman to die, prosecutors said.
The judge said in court that even if Handley was just driving the van, he could have stopped the crime.
Nayeri faces the same charges. He has denied any involvement in the crime.
He was awaiting trial in this case when he grabbed headlines in 2016 for a brazen escape that he recorded on contraband cellphone from the Men's Central Jail in Santa Ana.
Kevorkian's attorney has declined to comment.