Trial Date Set for Accused Lake Highlands Rapist

Accused rapist enters not guilty plea at pretrial hearing

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Cesar Benitez was in court Friday morning for a pretrial hearing and entered a plea of not guilty on all three charges.  Benitez is charged with three felony counts of sexual assault for attacks that took place early last year; attacks police said last year Benitez admitted to doing.

The three rapes in the Lake Highlands neighborhood last winter terrorized the neighborhood for weeks, with many women saying they were afraid to leave their homes until the rapist was caught.

DNA evidence provided by Benitez after his capture matched DNA collected from each of the three victims.

In the pretrial hearing Friday, Benitez addressed the court and said, "I want to say something. I feel like I'm not properly prepared. My attorney who was appointed to me is not prepared adequately. I'm not knowledgeable about the evidence. Please may I have more time."

Defense attorney John Key said he's reviewed a thousand pages of documents contained within 22 CDs of data, as well as in-person interviews. He told the court Benitez was not talking to him or answering his questions.

The judge told Benitez he was free to hire another attorney, but that the trial date would not be moved and that the court would not be "manipulated."

If convicted, prosecutors for the state want Benitez to serve any prison sentences consecutively, not concurrently.

Benitez is being held in Dallas County Jail on a $4.5 million bond. He also faces an immigration hold by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, indicating that investigators suspect he's in the country illegally.

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