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Man who stabbed cabdriver is sentenced to 20 years

Updated: 2013-11-21T01:23:36Z

By MATT CAMPBELL

The Kansas City Star

A man who stabbed a female cabdriver at least seven times from the back seat and then stole her taxi was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison.

Julian F. Rodriguez, 20, admitted the attack and told investigators it was exhilarating. He pleaded guilty to robbery, armed criminal action and stealing a motor vehicle.

The driver, Shelli Hopkins, said Rodriguez “just kept laughing” during the attack, which left her with 70 to 80 stitches, post-traumatic stress and about $92,000 in medical bills with no insurance.

While waiting for Rodriguez’s case to work through the court, Hopkins described her anxiety doing simple things like standing in line with people behind her at a store.

Hopkins was dispatched on Dec. 20 last year to pick up a fare at the North-East Branch of the Kansas City Public Library. Rodriguez asked to be taken to the 5200 block of Sycamore Avenue. When they arrived, he suddenly began stabbing her in the back, arm, face and hand.

After kicking Hopkins out, Rodriguez drove away in the cab. He told police that he and a woman went to eat and to a movie on the Country Club Plaza and then had sex in the cab.

The taxi was located the next day by its GPS, and Rodriguez led police on a chase that ended in Grandview.

Rodriguez told police it was the third vehicle he had stolen in two weeks. He had been arrested for one of those and released on his own recognizance the day before the attack on the cabdriver.

Hopkins said this summer that she forgave her attacker.

“Forgiveness frees me, not him,” she said, “and it’s the mandate of my faith.”

To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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