Grover Beach man pleads no contest to carjacking Cal Poly student

Ryan Soqui
Ryan Soqui

A 24-year-old Grover Beach man entered a no-contest plea Friday to three charges related to the carjacking of a Cal Poly student and faces up to 17 years in state prison.

Ryan Joseph Soqui entered his plea before Judge John Trice to kidnapping, carjacking and robbery against Cal Poly student Yi Tak Choi as she was on her way to study at the campus library.

A no-contest plea results in a conviction without an admission of guilt. Soqui is scheduled to appear for his sentencing Nov. 15 in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

According to the victim’s testimony in a preliminary hearing last year, Soqui knocked on the window of Choi’s 2000 Audi on Nov. 4, 2009, and when she rolled the window down to see what he wanted, he jumped into the car and pointed a gun at her.

Soqui ordered her to drive south on Highway 101, eventually taking control of the car and driving to Wells Fargo ATM on Foothill Boulevard, she said.

Choi testified that after Soqui initially pointed the gun at her, he said, “Don’t do anything stupid or else” in a threat to kill her.

She said Soqui took $200 from her wallet and ordered her to use her ATM card to withdraw $300 from Wells Fargo Bank.

Once she was out of his sight on her way to the ATM, Choi ran into Nucci’s restaurant and reported the crime, she said.

Authorities arrested Soqui two days after the incident in Santa Barbara County near the Gaviota Tunnel.

Soqui’s penalty is expected to be strengthened by his alleged use of a firearm in the crime and by a prior criminal record.

Caryn Michaels handled the case for the prosecution, and defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu represented Soqui. Soqui is being held without bail in County Jail. His case has been referred to the county Probation Department for a recommendation on the sentencing.