A man arrested in 2008 for preying on elderly San Franciscans has finally received justice, District Attorney George Gascón said.
Dwayne Whitaker, 51, of San Francisco, was sentenced to 439 years to life Monday for a series of burglaries and robberies of four victims, three of which were older than 65.
Whitaker committed the crimes in July and August of 2008 in the Nob Hill area of San Francisco, prosecutors said. The victims would typically be entering their homes, often with groceries in their hands, when they would be attacked by Whitaker.
The victims were often unable to defend themselves against his attack, many of which were hospitalized for their injuries.
"This man preyed upon the elderly and defenseless," Gascón said. "His actions were repulsive, and the sentence he received ensures he will never be able to hurt anyone again."
In one incident, the victim was able to call for help and his partner and neighbors came out and restrained Whitaker until police arrived.
Whitaker was originally deemed incompetent to stand trial and spent the next five years in a state hospital, prosecutors said. In 2013, he was found competent and returned to court where he was ultimately found guilty on several charges. They include two counts of first degree burglary, one count of first degree robbery, one count of attempted robbery, two counts of assault, elder abuse with great bodily injury and receiving or buying stolen property.
The District Attorney's Office asked for a life sentence for Whitaker due to having previously been convicted of three strikes, prosecutors said.
One of the victims expressed a sense of relief that Whitaker was sentenced.
"The incident left me fearful and scared to leave my home," Robin Currier said. "I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and spent a year in therapy. I'm relieved that I'll never have to look over my shoulder and see this man."
The case highlighted the complexity of prosecuting cases involving mental competency, Gascón said.
"In the end we prevailed, but it took six years for Mr. Whitaker's victims to receive justice," Gascón said. He said his office would be asking the mayor and Board of Supervisors for funding to support a dedicated unit to handle issues related to mental competency.