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Theft charges filed in alleged California torture case

Four defendants are facing criminal charges after a bizarre incident in California involving the torture of a marijuana dispensary operator. The defendants are facing more than one theft charge in connection with the incident, which also allegedly involved injuring the victim with a blowtorch and even cutting off his penis. The group reportedly kidnapped the man and his roommate's girlfriend in early October 2012. They face charges including burglary, aggravated mayhem, torture and kidnapping for ransom, along with others. All of the defendants could spend life in prison without parole if they are convicted.

Authorities report that two of the at-large defendants were arrested in Fresno just one day after another man was identified in the Czech Republic. That man will be extradited to the U.S., according to news reports. The final defendant had been arrested in October 2012, shortly after the alleged torture incident took place. That man, who had supplied the victim with marijuana to support his dispensary operation, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Members of the group allegedly believed that the wealthy victim was hiding cash in secret caches throughout the desert, according to news reports. The defendants are accused of driving the man to a location where he had allegedly hidden money. They then cut off his penis and doused him with bleach in an effort to destroy any leftover evidence, driving away with the penis so that it would not be reattached. The woman was able to escape while bound with zip ties, flagging down a police officer for help. The victim survived the episode.

These defendants may be accused of an absolutely horrific crime, but they still deserve the full protection of the American legal system. They have rights that need to be safeguarded; criminal defense attorneys can ensure that happens. Criminal defendants deserve an unbiased trial, no matter the nature of their alleged offense.

Source: www.nydailynews.com, "Four charged in kidnapping, cutting off California man's penis during robbery" No author given, Nov. 09, 2013

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