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Mistrial declared in taxi driver’s kidnapping, rape case in Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ – After 21 days of trial, jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict for a taxi driver accused of kidnapping and raping a woman at a Santa Cruz motel three years ago, according to court documents.
Ahmed Abdi 
About noon Wednesday, jurors advised Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge John Salazar they were unable to reach a verdict on the six felonies faced by Ahmed Ali Abdi, 56, of Live Oak. Abdi’s charges include sexual battery, kidnapping, and kidnapping to rob or sexually assault, assault with intent to rape or maim.
The result is known as a mistrial, Chief Deputy Rob Wade said. That means the defendant can be tried again.
Another trial date will be scheduled at a hearing 8:15 a.m. Aug. 1 in Superior Court.
Jurors started deliberations July 13 and they submitted multiple questions about the evidence.
Abdi also took the stand in his own defense during trial.
The defendant is accused of picking up a 30-year-old Watsonville woman the night of March 28, 2014, for a ride in his taxi, taking her to a hotel and assaulting her, according to court documents.
Santa Cruz police have said Abdi has a significant criminal history. Abdi was a driver for Santa Cruz Transportation, doing business as Yellow Cab, police said. He was not legally allowed to operate the cab after being denied a permit three times, police said.
There are two narratives about what happened the night of March 28, 2014.
The woman told police she had gone out for drinks in Santa Cruz with her boyfriend but became separated from him after a disagreement in a Pacific Avenue bar, according to court documents. She recalled being picked up by a taxi outside the bar. She next recalled waking naked in bed with a strange man touching her in a room he rented that night at an inn on Ocean Street, according to court documents.
The woman told police she had no recollection of giving anyone consent to take her anywhere or to remove her clothes, according to court documents.
Abdi left the hotel before the woman woke and when police located him and his taxi at his home on Winkle Avenue, officers found the woman’s jacket, cell phone and keys in the vehicle, according to court documents.
Abdi told police he provided the woman with a ride and took her to the motel after driving around with her for a half hour while she cried and vomited in the cab, according to court documents. Abdi said he had to carry the woman into the room, where she vomited again, according to court documents. He also denied being with her while she was naked.
Abdi is held at Santa Cruz County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.

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