DA charges Calif. detective in killing of tenant

AP News
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Posted: May 03, 2011 7:10 PM
DA charges Calif. detective in killing of tenant

A Northern California sheriff's detective accused in an off-duty killing of a tenant at her family's rental property had a history of abusing and harassing renters, prosecutors said in court documents.

Kari Abbey, 24, was charged with second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and other counts on Monday, the same day she was fired from the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, the Modesto Bee reported.

Abbey is suspected of fatally shooting Rita Elias, 31, during a rent dispute outside a Modesto apartment complex last September. Abbey maintained the shooting was in self-defense, after Elias threatened her with a replica handgun.

The former detective also faces counts of conspiracy, embezzlement from a government entity, cultivation of marijuana, receiving stolen property and child endangerment.

Court documents say a March 30 search of Abbey's home revealed a sophisticated marijuana growing system, loaded weapons stored within reach of her children, counterfeit cash, vials of steroids and items belonging to the Hayward Police Department, where her husband had worked until last year.

Abbey's attorney, Robert Forkner, told the Bee his client "denies each and every allegation. She did nothing wrong."

Forkner said none of the illicit items found in the search belonged to Abbey. The marijuana belonged to Abbey's father, a Vietnam veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has a medical recommendation to use marijuana, he said.

Sheriff Adam Christianson said he was shocked by the allegations in the court documents.

"I'm embarrassed and disappointed in the contents of the affidavit," he told the Bee. "It doesn't uphold the values and principles that we stand for, nor does it represent the vast majority of employees who work for the sheriff's office."

Abbey's tenants told investigators that she and her husband would harass and intimidate them and that one of them was assaulted, the documents said. The tenants also reported feeling powerless to call authorities because the couple knew so many people in law enforcement.

District Attorney Birgit Fladager said her office is still investigating the case and more charges could be filed.

Abbey, who is currently free on $300,000 bail, will be arraigned in a few weeks, Forkner said.

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Information from: The Modesto Bee, http://www.modbee.com