The man accused as the Chandler Rapist made an appearance in court Wednesday, and his attorneys hope it will be among his last in Maricopa County.
Debated at the pretrial conference was whether Santana Batiz-Aceves should be tried just miles away from where the half-dozen attacks upon schoolgirls took place, or in another part of Arizona.
Public defender Kirk Nurmi said court proceedings here could never be truly fair considering the media coverage, both in amount and nature, of the crimes and Batiz-Aceves' arrest in January.
But prosecutor Angela Andrews dismissed arguments that the trial would descend into a "carnival atmosphere." She brought up other cases in which the gallery was standing-room only, and radio and television stations provided gavel-to-gavel coverage.
Among the 12 or so attendees in the Mesa courtroom were a radio reporter, a reporter and photographer from the Tribune and a two-person TV crew.
Judge Teresa A. Sanders said she would issue a ruling by April 11.
Batiz-Aceves has been indicted on 47 charges, including kidnapping, child molestation and sexual abuse. He would face at least 250 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
During the 87-minute hearing, Batiz-Aceves listened to the translated proceedings via earphones. He was shackled and dressed in the county jail's black-and-white garb, sandals and pink socks.
Batiz-Aceves has grown a bushy beard in place of the mustache and stubble he wore during his Jan. 12 arraignment.
Sanders issued an order minutes before the hearing forbidding the media from photographing Batiz-Aceves' face.
The next pretrial conference is scheduled for June 11.