The attorney for the man accused of being the Chandler Rapist has asked the court to hold his trial in another county or at least to gag prosecutors and police.
No trial date has been set yet for Santana Batiz-Aceves, who was arrested Jan. 11 and later indicted on 47 counts in connection with an 18-month spree of sexual attacks on teenaged girls, but his attorney contends in court documents that he won’t get a fair trial.
Deputy Public Defender Kirk Nurmi described the pretrial publicity as a “fierce blaze” and a “raging river of information, opinion, derogatory comments and presumptions of guilt asserted by law enforcement personnel.”
Nurmi provided the court with about 30 pages of examples of pretrial publicity, including stories that ran in the The Tribune.
Nurmi wrote that the high volume of stories contain details of the attacks, assertions that his DNA was found at three different crime scenes, and his immigration status, all of which will prejudice potential jurors.
Besides the print media, television and radio has covered the case extensively and Nurmi contends that in one radio interview Chandler police spokesmen, detective David Ramer and Sgt. Rick Griner “were joking and laughing with the host as he referred to Mr. Batiz-Aceves as a puke.”
Griner said Ramer and the host had some light banter about football, but neither of the police officers said anything degrading about Batiz-Aceves.
“We were there to discuss that he was arrested,” Griner said.
Griner said the department withheld details about the rapes while they searched for the attacker and became concerned when certain details were published in stories based on court records.
Prosecutor Angela Andrews wrote in court documents that the Maricopa County Attorney and Chandler police have worked together to limit the information disclosed to the public.
The Tribune published a story on Jan. 17 that provided specific details of each attack.
According to Andrews, the two agencies were prepared to file a motion to seal the documents the story was based on, but Judge Timothy Ryan, presiding criminal judge of Maricopa County, acted first and sealed them until the victims could be heard on their disclosure.