SAN DIEGO - A man suspected of beating, choking and sexually assaulting two women on consecutive days last summer in University City and Grantville, leaving both hospitalized, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 14 felony charges, including forcible rape.
Jeremiah Ira Williams, 25, was ordered held on $5 million bail. He faces 75 years to life plus 43 years and eight months in prison if convicted.
Williams was arrested in Arizona on Oct. 27 and extradited to San Diego in connection with the crimes that occurred in August.
Judge Howard Shore ordered the defendant to have no contact with the alleged victims in the case.
"The victims are healing and thankful for everyone involved in the case and the support they've received," said Deputy District Attorney Trisha Amador.
The first of the attacks occurred the night of Aug. 13 in the 3900 block of Nobel Drive. The 28-year-old victim had just been dropped off by a friend following a beach cookout when Williams allegedly followed her through a parking structure to her apartment, pushed her to the ground, pulled a handgun and told her to give him money.
After the woman handed over some cash, her assailant choked her and dragged her into her residence, where he beat and sexually assaulted her before fleeing, according to police. She was admitted to a trauma center for treatment of facial fractures and other injuries.
Four days later, detectives were sent to Sharp Memorial Hospital to investigate a belated sex-assault report, according to San Diego police Lt. Paul Phillips. They interviewed a 23-year-old patient who described being attacked by an acquaintance at a motel in the 4300 block of Alvarado Canyon Road on the evening of Aug. 14.
The woman told police that the assailant, whom she had just met, entered her room, throttled her, hit her on the head with a pistol and sexually assaulted her. When she screamed for help, the man fled.
Detectives subsequently determined that officers responding to that assault had arrived to find the woman gone but gathered evidence from the motel room for possible use in case a victim came forward.
Police also determined that Williams had been detained on the night of the second crime by California Highway Patrol personnel who happened to be in the area when it was reported and spotted him lurking in a nearby canyon.
Due to the lack of a victim and sketchy information about what had happened at the motel, Williams was released with a citation for a gun violation, though his pistol was confiscated, police said.
It would be several days before detectives realized that two very similar assaults had occurred that weekend.
Physical evidence and victim interviews allegedly implicate Williams in both crimes.
San Diego police said "numerous" tips from the public aided authorities in locating the suspect, including information that placed him in Arizona, where he was believed to have been living recently.
In addition to rape, Williams is charged with robbery, sodomy, making criminal threats, forcible sexual penetration, forcible oral copulation, burglary, assault with a firearm and false imprisonment.
A status conference is scheduled Nov. 23 and a preliminary hearing set for Dec. 1.