A man accused of carjacking a woman at a Paso Robles gas station and raping her inside her vehicle could spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading no contest Friday to sexual assault charges.
Edson Salazar Tapia, 21, of San Ardo, is expected to get the maximum sentence — 25 years to life in prison — for rape and forced oral copulation, both with the use of dangerous or deadly force. He was arrested last summer in San Ardo, in Monterey County.
The 19-year-old victim told police she had been getting gas on Niblick Road in Paso Robles around 8:30 p.m. on a Sunday night in June when two men approached her, one of them holding a fake gun. The men forced her to drive to San Ardo. One man left the car while Tapia raped the woman inside the vehicle. Tapia drove the victim to San Miguel, where she managed to escape. Tapia then drove off in her car.
Several hours later, Paso Robles police found the victim’s abandoned car in San Ardo. Eight hours after they found the vehicle, police tracked down Tapia and the other man. Tapia was arrested, and the other suspect was interviewed by police, but there was not enough evidence to charge him with a crime.
Tapia will be sentenced in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court on Jan. 24.