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Former deputy’s trial postponed

Former deputy’s trial postponed

Kari Abbey


POSTED August 17, 2012 3:59 p.m.

The jury trial for former Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Detective Kari Abbey has been postponed because the defense needs more time to examine the multitude of documents obtained from the prosecution during the discovery period.

The trial date, which was set to start Sept. 25, was vacated Friday by Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Ricardo Cordova after Abbey’s defense attorney Michael Raines requested more time to review the evidence and documents. No new trial date was set.

Abbey is facing charges of conspiracy to forcibly enter a home, embezzlement from a government entity, cultivating marijuana, and permitting a child to be endangered.

Kari Abbey was initially facing charges of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter for the death of Rita Elias. Kari Abbey was accused of gunning down Elias on Sept. 24, 2010, after attempts to evict her from the Donald Street property owned by Kari Abbey’s father turned into a physical altercation between the two women. At one point Elias went back into the home and came back out with a branch in her left hand and a gun in the right.  Kari Abbey fired at Elias, striking her multiple times. It was later revealed Elias was holding a BB gun.

A probe into the shooting was initiated and soon expanded into aspects of Kari Abbey’s personal life and her position as a detective with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

Investigators obtained search warrants for Kari Abbey’s residential property, where she lived with her husband, their two children and her parents. During the search investigators seized an assault rifle, a shotgun, a .22-caliber handgun, steroids, three police vests, 106 marijuana plants ranging in maturity, along with three bags of packaged marijuana, scales and packaging material.

At the conclusion of Kari Abbey’s preliminary hearing Cordova ruled there was enough evidence to support the theory that Kari Abbey believed Elias’ threat to get a gun posed a very real danger to her, her father and her two children present at the scene and that she was entitled to take action to protect them. As a result the second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter charges lodged against Kari Abbey were dropped.

Cordova ruled there was enough cause to hold Abbey over for trial on the other charges. She is also facing a civil suit filed by Elias’ family.

Nearly a month after Abbey’s preliminary hearing, her father, James Abbey, and her husband, Bennie Taylor, were arrested on criminal charges as well.

Taylor has been charged with felony counts of conspiracy, cultivation of marijuana, possession of an assault weapon, child endangerment, possession of a controlled substance, and a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle.

James Abbey was charged with felony counts of conspiracy, cultivation of marijuana, possession of a dangerous weapon, and receiving stolen property.

Also at Friday’s hearing, Cordova ordered the information obtained from the sheriff’s department internal affairs investigation of Kari Abbey be handed over to the prosecution.

The cases against Kari Abbey and her husband and father are separate, but Cordova ordered all three back for a pretrial hearing on Oct. 2.

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