Accused Lake Highlands Rapist Pleads Guilty

Accused rapist enters not guilty plea at pretrial hearing

Cesar Benitez, the man accused of raping three North Dallas women last year, pleaded guilty to three charges Monday morning as jury selection was soon to begin.

Benitez pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of burglary of a habitation and sexual assault.

Sentencing has been set for Monday, March 3, at 9 a.m.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday after Benitez pleaded not guilty to all three charges in a pre-trial hearing on Feb. 7.

Benitez was 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.

During the pretrial hearing, 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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