AUBURN — A Lewiston man whose cellphone was stolen at gunpoint tracked his phone by GPS using an app he had installed on the phone.
A quick-thinking Abdiweli Abdow, 23, shared his Apple ID number with his friends who had fled when Abdow was robbed on Walnut Street early on the morning of March 2. His friends used that information to locate his phone, which had been stolen along with headphones, car keys and $150 in cash.
Abdow was walking with a group of friends shortly before 2 a.m. when a Jeep SUV drove past then stopped, according to an affidavit written by Lewiston Police Detective David Levesque. The two women in the front seat called to them. The women invited them to a party, then one of them asked whether they had $400 in exchange for sex.
Abdow said the woman in the passenger seat asked for his cellphone so she could enter her number in it. She handed it back. A man got out of the back of the SUV with a gun. He approached Abdow, pointing the gun at him, saying, “Don’t move.”
The man searched Abdow’s front pockets and took his possessions, including his iPhone 7 Plus, then jumped back in the SUV, which drove off, turning onto Bartlett Street.
Abdow’s friends memorized the license plate number on the Jeep, which had a Connecticut registration.
One of Abdow’s friends told police the man in the back seat pointed his gun, which had a silver barrel and a wooden grip, and said, “I’m going to kill you.” Abdow’s friend ran toward his group of friends, shouting, “He has a gun!”
Three more of Abdow’s friends conveyed to police a similar account of events. They said they saw the man in the Jeep holding a gun and going through Abdow’s pockets.
Through Abdow’s “Find My iPhone” app on his cellphone, police were able to trace his phone to Motel 8 in Lewiston where the two women who had been in the front of the Jeep were found and detained. Police seized the Jeep and towed it to the police station.
Police later activated the “Find My iPhone” app. It showed the phone was in the Jeep at the police station. Police also found a gun in the SUV.
When the SUV’s front-seat passenger was interviewed, Jakayla Botelho, 25, she told police her friend had picked her up that night and she saw a man sitting in the rear of the vehicle.
When the Jeep came alongside the group of Somali men, Botelho had invited them to a birthday party “because her child’s father (Botelho stated she was two months pregnant) is a Somalian and she believed all of them to be ‘cousins,'” Levesque wrote in his affidavit. Botelho claimed she “blacked out” and “did not know what was going on,” Levesque wrote.
“I found numerous inconsistencies with her story,” he wrote. He challenged her on those inconsistencies, he wrote.
The driver of the SUV, Brianna Hesketh, 56, of Lewiston, told police she had met the man in the back seat on a website called “Plenty of Fish.” She said she believed his name was “T.”
She said she had dropped him off at a location, which she later admitted was a lie. He had actually been with her at the Motel 8 when police arrived and had ducked out the back of the room, Levesque wrote.
Police watched video from a street surveillance camera that showed the events as Abdow and his friends had described.
A car rental business video showed Hesketh renting the Jeep accompanied by a man described as the one sitting in the back seat.
During a search of the Jeep, police found a loaded 9mm Taurus handgun, Abdow’s cellphone, cash, DNA and fingerprints.
Someone identified a photo of the man in the Jeep’s back seat as Pierre Joseph-Calhoun, 28, of 168 Summer St., and said he had been wearing the same clothing a day earlier.
Levesque questioned Calhoun at the police station. He admitted he had been in the back seat of the Jeep but said he got out to confront a tall man who had been “staring at him and disrespecting him,” Levesque wrote. He said he pointed a BB gun at the man. He admitted taking the man’s cellphone and headphones, but said he hadn’t taken any cash.
He said he “just wasn’t thinking,” Levesque wrote.
Calhoun told police he left the gun under a tarp in the backyard of a friend’s home on Fourth Street. Police searched but couldn’t find a gun in that location.
He told police the women in the Jeep hadn’t been aware of his “last-minute” robbery plan.
Calhoun was indicted in May by an Androscoggin County grand jury on two counts of robbery, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and theft by unauthorized taking.
Four of the charges are felonies, the most serious of which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
He pleaded guilty Friday in Lewiston District Court and was sentenced to 16 years in prison with all but five years suspended.
A day earlier, he admitted to violating terms of his probation from an earlier, unrelated conviction. The sentence for the violation is to run consecutive with the sentence imposed Friday, meaning Calhoun will serve about seven years in prison followed by 11 years of probation.