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Ceres native, Deputy Abbey charged with homicide
Kari Abbey, 34, a Ceres native and a six-year deputy with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, was arrested Monday on second-degree murder charges relating to the Sept. 24, 2010 Modesto shooting death of Rita Elias.

In addition, Abbey faces voluntary manslaughter charges as well as embezzlement from a government agency, cultivation of marijuana, receiving stolen property and child endangerment.

Abbey, who was fired from her job on Monday, was released from jail after posting $300,000 bail.

District Attorney Birgit Fladager said evidence shows the shooting was not justified. She released a statement saying "This is certainly a tragic situation. Charges have been filed following a thorough investigation. We will now seek to bring this matter to a fair and just conclusion."

"This is a tragedy for everyone involved" said Sheriff Adam Christianson. "We offer our deepest condolences to the Elias family."

In statements made weeks after the shooting death, Christianson said that the shooting by the off-duty sheriff's detective appeared to be self-defense. He said he based his statement on information available to him at the time. Christianson said he is now embarrassed at the contents of the district attorney's affidavit against Abbey.

Evidence was subsequently uncovered during the ongoing investigation, including the presence of an additional witness, that led to criminal charges.

Abbey, a 1995 Ceres High School graduate, shot the 31-year-old Modesto woman multiple times during a long dispute in the 1700 block of Donald Street in Modesto.

Elias allegedly threatened Abbey with a .177-caliber Crosman BB gun, which resembled a semiautomatic handgun. Modesto criminal defense attorney Robert Forkner said his client was innocent, noting that the shooting was in self defense because "anybody who points a replica firearm at a citizen, and that citizen fires back - that's self-defense."

Elias was staying with a friend at an apartment complex owned by Abbey and her parents, James and Denise Abbey. She was at the apartment with family members, some say to collect overdue rent. The affidavit also accuses Abbey of abusing her tenants, and using on-duty deputies to serve eviction papers.

The Sheriff's Department's Homicide Team did an investigation and turned over the facts to the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office. In late March, the District Attorney's office, assisted by the FBI, searched the Service Road home of Abbey's parents in search of evidence.

Records from the district attorney's office revealed Abbey was in possession of a illegal or stolen items, including counterfeit money, three bullet-proof vests, a loaded and illegal assault rifle, and a stolen shotgun reported missing in 1987 from an Oakland home. Some of the weapons and steroids were allegedly handled by the Hayward Police Department, for which Abbey's husband, Bennie Taylor, worked until 2010.