A cabdriver accused of raping a San Carlos bar patron last month pleaded not guilty to nine felony charges and put his case on the fast track to trial.
Jose Anenias Ramirez, 36, surprised his attorney Wednesday by telling Commissioner Stephanie Garratt he was invoking his right to a speedy trial.
“Something has obviously changed overnight,” defense attorney Leland Davis III said.
Ramirez faces life in prison if convicted of all of the charges.
Garratt set Ramirez’s preliminary hearing for April 2. The fast-tracking of the case means prosecutors must turn over all evidence in the case within the next 10 days, including surveillance footage and taped interviews from witnesses.
Outside court, Davis said he suspects Ramirez got some last-minute legal advice from another inmate in San Mateo County Jail.
Ramirez is facing a count of kidnapping with intent to commit rape, which carries a possible life sentence. He is also charged with three counts of rape of an intoxicated person, three counts of rape of an unconscious person, a count of oral copulation with an intoxicated person and a count of oral copulation with an unconscious person.
Prosecutors say the victim spent the evening of Feb. 21 drinking at Clooney’s Bar in San Carlos before two women saw she was intoxicated and called her a taxi. Instead of driving the woman home, however, prosecutors allege Ramirez took her to his Redwood City home, where he repeatedly assaulted her.
Ramirez claims the woman was conscious and consenting, according to Davis.
Ramirez’s friend and landlord Rina Deras said she was shocked. She described Ramirez as a happy, hardworking man who tried to persuade her to attend his church. The El Salvador native had started a taxi company four months earlier, Deras said.
Deputy District Attorney Aaron Fitzgerald said he’s confident he will be able to prove the case against Ramirez in court.
“We have a particularly vulnerable victim in the case. We take it extremely seriously,” he said.