Man admits kidnapping La Jolla cardiologist, beating him
by NEAL PUTNAM
Published - 06/07/21 - 10:00 AM | 3750 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A 19-year, eight month prison sentence is expected for the brutal beating of a La Jolla cardiologist following the guilty pleas of his former neighbor, a prosecutor said.

Sentencing for Robert “Trey” Whitaker, 59, was set for Aug. 23 by San Diego Superior Court Judge Peter Deddeh on May 26 for the beating of Dr. Hassan Kafri in 2019.

Whitaker pleaded guilty to kidnapping Kafri, assault with a deadly weapon that resulted in great bodily injuries, and residential burglary when Whitaker attacked him inside his garage in the June 12, 2019 incident.

Deputy District Attorney Kristie Nikoletich said Whitaker has “stipulated” or agreed to receive a 19-year, eight month sentence in state prison and thus this is the expected term.

Deddeh dismissed charges of torture, kidnapping for robbery, and dissuading a witness after Whitaker pleaded guilty to the other counts.

Kafri, who was 48 years old at the time, suffered a broken nose, broken wrist, dental injuries and other fractures. He is a well known doctor with offices in San Diego, Chula Vista, and El Cajon.

Whitaker was a construction contractor who lived with a woman who owned the house next door to Kafri on Mar Avenue in La Jolla. Kafri sued Whitaker for a sewage backup on his property in 2018, but later dropped the suit.

Kafri testified he got text messages from Whitaker to talk about constructing a fence between them. The doctor testified he met with Whitaker on June 12 in his garage to discuss the fence when Whitaker began acting strangely.

Whitaker wrapped his arm around Kafti’s neck and put him in a chokehold, Kafri testified. He said Whitaker struck him 30 times in the face with a wooden tool and sometimes used his fists in blows to the head.

Whitaker tried to strangle him, the doctor testified, and he had blood on his face.

A neighbor across the street began yelling at Whitaker, telling him to stop. Whitaker then closed the garage door.

Kafri testified a friend called him on his phone and he told him “I’m getting killed” before Whitaker took the device and broke it.

Whitaker tied both of the doctor’s wrists with zip ties and put him in the back seat of his Tesla. Whitaker got the car key, but was unable to start the car or move it.

Thinking the police might be coming, Kafri testified he offered to say his injuries were the result of a mountain bicycle accident and not tell them about what Whitaker did.

Whitaker agreed, and cut the bloody zip ties off Kafri before police arrived. Whitaker was arrested and an ambulance took Kafri to a hospital where he remained for nearly four days after getting 18 stitches to close wounds in his face and head.

Whitaker remains in the South Bay Detention Facility without bail.

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