Suspect in Detroit serial rapes heading to trials

DETROIT (AP) — A man on parole for attempted murder was ordered to trial Friday in five rapes in Detroit that were part of a string of attacks that began on New Year’s Day and terrorized the city.

District Court Judge Kenneth King heard the cases one by one and found probable to try Raynard Coleman, 31, who already has spent much of his life behind bars for violent crimes. King ordered separate trials in each of the five rapes and another trial for an attempted rape.

“It’s very sad — despicable,” King told The Associated Press.

A man armed with a gun attacked his victims on dark, deserted streets on Detroit’s east and northeast sides, starting on Jan. 1, as the women walked or drove alone, according to testimony.

The women said they were sexually assaulted in Coleman’s car, an alley and abandoned homes.

“The DNA samples matched,” Michigan State Police scientist Heather Vitta testified.

A woman said she was walking from a brother’s house at 3 a.m. on Jan. 4 when a man “jumped behind me and put something in my back.” She said she was taken to an alley, forced to perform oral sex and then raped.

She said she tried to run but was told, “If you do it again, I’m going to kill you.”

The women were deeply distressed on the witness stand. They cried, sighed and sometimes paused as they recalled the events. One woman who says she was attacked while going to work at McDonald’s on Jan. 1 turned in the chair so she would not see Coleman while testifying.

“They’re brave. For them to come in and face their attacker is inspiring,” assistant prosecutor Suzette Samuels said outside court. “They didn’t waver.”

Four victims were between the ages of 17 to 20. Coleman faces more than 30 charges, including kidnapping, robbery and illegal use of a gun. He’s still a suspect in two more sexual assaults but has not been charged.

Defense attorney James Galen Jr. said he was willing to waive the hearing to spare the women from the pain of appearing in court. But prosecutors wanted to get testimony on the record and had a right to request that the hearing be held.

Galen summed up the day as “ugly business.” He said he’d welcome a plea deal but doubts prosecutors will offer one.

In 2009, Coleman was paroled after serving 14 years for attempted murder and other crimes in Wayne County. He began his sentence as a teenager in juvenile facilities but was transferred to a regular prison at age 18.

Coleman was paroled long after serving his minimum 10-year sentence but six years before his 20-year maximum would have expired in fall 2015.

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