CLEVELAND - A February trial date was set Monday for a convicted sex offender charged with two murders and 173 counts of rape.
The judge set Feb. 24 as the trial date for Elias Acevedo, 49, over the objections of defense attorneys who asked for a May trial and said they might need more time to fight a videotaped admission made by the defendant to investigators.
The defense team also said a need might arise later for defense expert testimony.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Donnelly told the defense that the trial was a priority on his docket, but he would consider delaying the trial later if the defense shows sufficient reason.
Acevedo, who appeared in court with his ankles and wrists in manacles, has pleaded not guilty. He responded "yes" to questions from the judge on whether he was satisfied with his attorneys and was meeting with them.
The murder charges involve the deaths of a neighbor in 1994 and another woman in 1995. He also faces rape and sexual assault charges involving attacks on minors, some dating back more than 25 years.
Assistant Prosecutor Blaise Thomas, responding to a question from the judge, said a videotaped statement by the defendant included an admission.
The prosecutor didn't elaborate and wouldn't say after court if the admission amounted to a confession to murder.
The videotape mentioned in court involved the defendant's statement to investigators. Two other videos which the defense said would require time for review involve witness statements, Thomas said.
Acevedo's prosecution is the latest among a group of high-profile cases involving violence against women in and around Cleveland.
The prosecutor's office says Acevedo most recently lived about a block away from Ariel Castro, 53, who kidnapped three women, imprisoned and raped them in his home for about a decade. They escaped to freedom May 6.
Castro killed himself in prison Sept. 3, just weeks into a life prison sentence.