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UPDATE: Alleged Manhattan Heights rapist in court Tuesday

UPDATE: Alleged Manhattan Heights rapist in court Tuesday

POSTED: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 11:31am

UPDATED: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 12:19pm

Defense says Prosecution will likely seek a life sentence

The accused Manhattan Heights rapist, Arturo-Valtierra Payan was back in court Tuesday for a hearing that was supposed to determine his trial date.  Valtierra's defense attorney, Patrick Lara, from the Public Defender's Office, told Judge Luis Aguilar he needed more time to prepare for the trial.  Lara said he expects state prosecutors to ask for a life sentence.

"They're probably going to ask for a life sentence. I don't know for sure but I'm anticipating for a life sentence and we will not accept a life sentence," Lara said.

Valtierra is accused of breaking into several homes in the Manhattan Heights neighborhood and allegedly raping three women in May and June of 2013.  He was arrested in July and then charged with two additional counts in August.

Lara was assigned to Valtierra's case in November to help the public defenders after Judge Aguilar expressed frustration that the case wasn't moving along quickly enough.

Jaime Gandara has since removed himself from the case because the office decided that four attorneys from the Public Defender's Office was excessive.  Lara and his assistant, Linda Estrada, will now defend Valtierra.

Lara said he does not expect to be ready to go to trial until at least August or July of this year.

"I wanted more time to see which cases that we have a handle on, where our experts are going to be, and everything else. At this point, we just still need to evaluate a lot of evidence in the case," Lara said.

Valtierra is charged in three separate cases in El Paso and a separate sexual assault case in Fort Worth.

Lara said he plans to travel to Fort Worth in the next three to four weeks to meet with the District Attorney's office there and review the evidence for the separate sexualy assault case that Valtierra has been linked to in Fort Worth.

The trial date that was supposed to be set is only for one of the El Paso cases.  Prosecutors in El Paso and Fort Worth said the outcome of the first trial will determine how they will proceed in the other cases. 

The next hearing will be February 11.




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