Thomas Enters New Guilty Pleas In East Coast Rapes
MANASSAS, Va. (AP) — A Connecticut man admitted Friday to two more rapes that authorities have attributed to a serial rapist who attacked at least 17 women along the East Coast for more than a decade.
Aaron Thomas, 41, of New Haven, pleaded guilty to abducting three teenage trick-or-treaters between the ages of 16 and 17 and raping two of them on Halloween 2009.
Those attacks were the last in a string of assaults that police attributed to a single suspect. A multi-state manhunt ended last year with Thomas’ arrest.
On Thursday, Thomas for the first time entered a guilty plea to the attacks when he admitted raping a Leesburg woman in 2001.
The cases are linked by DNA evidence. Other assaults occurred in Maryland, Rhode Island and Connecticut, dating to 1997.
Thomas faces up to life in prison.
Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert said after the hearing that he hopes the judge will give serious consideration to imposing a maximum sentence at a hearing Feb. 22. Even if the Prince William judge fails to impose a life sentence, Thomas still faces that in the Leesburg case. A sentencing date for that case, in Loudoun County, will be set on Monday.
During Friday’s hearing, prosecutors admitted into evidence a transcript of interviews Thomas gave shortly after his March 2011 arrest. In them, Thomas admits to committing all of the attacks attributed to the East Coast rapist, Ebert said.
Friday’s hearing went smoothly. Earlier in November, Thomas backed out of a plea hearing, claiming he did not know what he was doing. At Thursday’s hearing in Leesburg, Thomas again acted confused and cried out at one point that he didn’t understand what was going on before eventually going forward with his guilty plea.
On Friday in Manassas, Thomas’ voice was more clearly audible.
“I would like to take responsibility for my problem and the pain I’ve caused,” he said before entering his plea.
Initially, Thomas’ lawyers had pursued an insanity defense, saying that their client was uncooperative and complained of an alternate personality named Erwin. But a court-appointed mental-health evaluator concluded Thomas was faking his symptoms.
Thomas did ask to be excused from the main courtroom and was escorted into a side chamber Friday while a detective testified about details of the crime.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)