Suspect accused of 2005 rape pleads not guilty

Alfredo Cruz (Source: Butler County Jail)
Alfredo Cruz (Source: Butler County Jail)
Alfredo Lopez-Cruz was brought into court wearing a bullet-proof vest.
Alfredo Lopez-Cruz was brought into court wearing a bullet-proof vest.

HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - A man who was once called Butler County's most wanted was in court Thursday on rape and kidnapping charges.

Alfredo Lopez Cruz, 26, is back in Butler County after six years on the run.

Speaking through an interpreter, Cruz pleaded not guilty to raping a 9-year-old girl back in 2005. Prosecutors asked for no bond, but Judge Keith Spaeth set bond at $750,000, cash or surety.

Cruz was captured in Mexico in March of this year and extradited back to Butler County Tuesday night.

Back in 2005, an angry mob burned down the vacant house allegedly used in the attack shortly after Cruz was named a suspect in the case.

Security in the courtroom was extremely high. Cruz appeared wearing a bullet-proof vest and shackles around his hands and feet. He was escorted by an armed plain clothes officer, and several other armed officers were scattered throughout the room.

Public defender Lawrence Hawkins III was appointed as Cruz's attorney, and a trial date was set for Oct. 20 at 9 a.m.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the victim in the case is now 15 years old and willing to testify during the trial.

"I think it's just good to know that he's here, and hopefully that he will be punished for his crime," said Cathy Hester of Hamilton,

Hester gets choked up just talking about it -- the rape of a 9-year-old girl in her own neighborhood. As the leader of Living Water Ministries, which was right next to the crime scene at the time, she remembers the ripple effect on the community.
"I saw a lot of hatred, a lot of rage, I saw the community divided for the very first time," Hester said.
"There was violence, the community was very concerned, the tension was there," said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones. "It's one of the most difficult manhunts we've ever dealt with."

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