An appellate court has reduced the prison sentence of a man who raped two women and sexually assaulted a third as she slept in a limousine parked in Costa Mesa.
Justices shaved five years from Ali Achekzai’s 61-years-to-life sentence. The 4th Appellate District Division 3 issued its ruling on Monday.
The three-judge panel said in its decision that Achekzai, 35, was punished twice for a sentencing enhancement of inflicting great bodily harm. He will now serve 56 years to life in prison.
In December 2011, a jury convicted Achekzai of two counts of rape, two counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object and assault with a deadly weapon, with a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily harm. The crimes took place at various locations in Orange and San Diego counties.
On Oct. 24, 2002, after leaving a Laguna Beach nightclub, Achekzai sexually assaulted one of the women as she slept in a limo after dropping off one passenger in Costa Mesa. The woman woke up to find him fondling her and unzipping her pants.
On Jan. 31, 2004, he met another woman at a Laguna Beach club and followed her as she drove away. He yelled at her to pull over, indicating he had something important to say, according to reports at the time. He convinced the woman to get into his car after she pulled into a parking lot. He said he was trying to protect her from another man at the club, but the woman became scared and tried to run.
Achekzai chased her down, dragging her back to her car where he raped and sexually assaulted her.
On May 3, 2004, Achekzai invited a 21-year-old woman to walk with him along a dark path in San Diego County. He pulled her to the ground, hitting her and telling her he would kill her if she screamed. He then raped her, prosecutors have said. When the woman told her cousin about the rape, Achekzai punched the victim, knocking out her front tooth, court documents show.
He fled the country before he was charged. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Tustin police submitted Achekzai’s DNA to Interpol, the international police agency, in December 2009 and discovered he was living in Austria under the name Wali Ahmed Shoja. He was extradited in August 2010.
Achekzai is serving his sentence at the Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, according to records from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The Orange County Register first reported the appellate court’s decision.