SANTA ANA (CBS) — A former Ladera Ranch resident who eluded authorities for six years until his capture in Austria was sentenced Friday to 61 years to life for sexually assaulting three women.

Ali Achekzai, 33, was convicted of raping two women in 2004 and fondling and attempting to sexually assault another woman two years prior, Deputy District Attorney Robert Mestman said.

Achekzai fondled and attempted to sexually assault a 24-year-old woman while she was passed out in a limousine parked near a Laguna Beach nightclub on Oct. 26, 2002, Mestman said. The victim woke up while Achekzai was fondling her breasts, and she screamed for help, according to the prosecutor.

Achekzai met another woman at the same Laguna Beach nightclub on Jan. 31, 2004. Later that evening, after they had gone their separate ways, Achekzai drove up alongside the 21-year-old victim and managed to convince her to pull her car into a Jack In the Box restaurant parking lot in Tustin, then raped her in her vehicle, Mestman said.

Achekzai raped another then-21-year-old woman on May 3, 2004, near Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, Mestman said.

The victim had gone to see her cousin, who had met Achekzai’s cousin in the same Laguna Beach nightclub, Mestman said. The woman, her cousin and Achekzai and his cousin drove around San Diego looking for a business still open to buy alcohol.

When they could not find one, they drove to the Mt. Soledad area. Achekzai and the victim, who is 28 now, paired off and took a walk to leave the other two alone, but she got scared when she felt they had walked too far.

She testified that she told Achekzai she wanted to go back to the car and started to walk in that direction when he grabbed her by the hand.

The woman testified that she tried to fight back as Achekzai repeatedly punched her and then sexually assaulted her.

When Achekzai covered her mouth with his hand, she sunk her teeth into it, she testified.

“I bit his hand,” the woman said. “I tasted blood.”

Authorities were able to link Achekzai to the two rapes through DNA evidence, Mestman said.

Achekzai testified that the sexual assault in the limousine did not happen and claimed he had consensual sex with the other women in 2004, Mestman said.

Jurors, who deliberated several hours before reaching verdicts, did not buy those claims.

“I think the relative speed of the verdicts speaks to the overwhelming evidence in the case,” Mestman said.

Attempts to reach Achekzai’s attorney, Ronald Cordova, were not immediately successful.

Arrest warrants for Achekzai were first issued in October 2004, but the Afghan native fled the country before he could face charges here, Mestman said.

Achekzai was accused of rape in April 2009 in Salzburg, Austria, but those charges were later dropped and he was extradited back to Orange County in August of last year, according to prosecutors.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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