Hossein Nayeri, 37, and co-defendant Kyle Shirakawa Handley, 37, were ordered to return to court March 21 for a trial-setting conference. Handley objected to the delay, but Orange County Superior Court Robert Fitzgerald would not separate the cases.
Two other co-defendants, Ryan Anthony Kevorkian, 36, and Naomi Josette Rhodus, 35, are next due in court March 22 and March 18, respectively.
When the bearded Nayeri was asked if he agreed to a delay in his trial, he responded, “I do.”
After the hearing, defense attorney Sal Ciulla declined to comment on the allegations his client is facing regarding the Jan. 22 escape with Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Bac Duong, 43, saying he had not yet received any evidence in the case.
For now, Ciulla is focusing on the case that originally landed Nayeri behind bars — the October 2012 abduction of a marijuana dispensary owner and his roommate’s girlfriend to a spot in the Mojave Desert, where the kidnappers mistakenly thought the businessman had stashed a large amount of cash. The dispensary owner was tortured and had his penis severed in the attack.
“Now we’ve got to find a jury the best we can that’s unbiased,” Ciulla said after the hearing.
When asked if he would consider filing a motion for a change of venue, Ciulla told City News Service, “We’re looking into that right now. I think it’s unlikely, but we’re looking into it.”
The trial for the marijuana dispensary owner attack could happen by this summer, but Ciulla said he wants “this to settle down a bit,” so the headlines aren’t as prominent in the minds of prospective jurors.
It remains to be seen if jurors would hear about the escape, Ciulla said.
The attorney said he was “glad that (the escape) was resolved without anyone being injured.” Ciulla described Nayeri’s demeanor since the former Marine’s recapture last weekend in San Francisco as “calm, easy to talk to, at least for me.”
Nayeri, who sheriff’s investigators believe was the mastermind of the escape, is “nothing like how he’s been characterized in the press the last week,” Ciulla said.
— Wire reports