Alleged Medical Center rapist claimed innocence after accepting plea deal, judge says

Aggravated sexual assault cases for Anton Harris may go to trial

In a rare move, a Bexar County judge on Monday rejected the plea deal for accused Medical Center rapist Anton Harris, 20.

SAN ANTONIO – In a rare move, a Bexar County judge on Monday rejected the plea deal for accused Medical Center rapist Anton Harris, 20.

Harris, who pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual assault last month as part of a plea deal, appeared before Judge Frank Castro to be sentenced Monday morning. Castro rejected the plea deal Harris had entered into with the Bexar County District Attorney's Office, possibly sending Harris to trial on the aggravated sexual assault charges.

RELATED: Court documents reveal how 'serial rapist' allegedly targeted victims in Medical Center

“I’m not going to accept the plea agreement," Castro said in court. "There’s five aggravated sexual -- alleged sexual assaults -- all of them allegedly involving guns and knives. In addition, the first victim in the first potential case to go to trial stated they had strong opposition (to the plea deal).”

Castro added that he rejected the plea deal because Harris said in a pre-sentence investigation that he was innocent.

Harris would have been sentenced to 40 years in prison as part of the plea deal. For two years, Harris terrorized the Medical Center area, allegedly perpetrating five sexual assaults.

RELATED: 5 Things to know about Anton Harris

While Castro is unable to comment further on the case because it is an ongoing matter, Administrative Bexar County District Court Judge Ron Rangel spoke to KSAT about plea deals, saying what happened Monday is rare. 

"Judges are always caught in this position where they want to ensure the public trust, knowing that the public does not know the ins and outs of any particular case other than what is the very, very surface," he said. "They're caught in this position where they're trying to find justice for the parties."

Rangel added that it is the job of the judge to be impartial when considering plea deals.

"A judge cannot say, 'There's a plea bargain for eight years. OK, I'm going to reject the plea bargain. I'm going to give you 30 (years),'" Rangel explained. "A judge cannot do that. All the judge can do is say yes or no, and if it's no, the parties have to deal with that case up front."

Now, the case will be scheduled to go to trial. If the District Attorney's office decides to move forward with prosecuting the case and taking it to trial, Harris will either go before a judge or jury. Instead of the 40-year sentence, Harris faces the possibility of life in prison on each charge.

The District Attorney's Office said it was unable to comment on active cases.

A request for comment from Harris' attorney was not returned at the time of publishing.

Read more from the arrest affidavits about Harris' alleged crimes: 

March 19, 2015
Location: 5600 block of Babcock Road
Harris is accused of groping a 28-year-old woman in an aggressive manner as she was walking to her apartment.

August 16, 2015
Location: 8000 block of Oakdell Way
The victim told authorities she was walking back to her apartment when she heard footsteps behind her. The victim said when she turned around, a man was behind her. The woman told authorities the man put a black shirt over her head and put her in a headlock as he dragged her backward. The woman clawed and scratched at the man's face until he let go and took off running. Authorities were able to collect and process the suspect's DNA from under her nails. Police said that sample linked Harris to the attack and five other sexual assault cases.

June 3, 2016
Location: 8000 block of Oakdell Way
The victim told police she had let her cat out of her apartment and heard scratching at her door a few minutes later. The woman looked out of the peephole and saw a man crouched near her door frame. The woman tried to close the door, but he threatened the woman with a long knife and forced his way in. An affidavit says the man was shouting, "Shut up, don't scream or I am going to kill you." The victim tried to run to the bathroom but the man followed her and grabbed her from behind while holding a knife to her throat. The man told the woman to remove her pants and then raped her. Before leaving the apartment, he told the woman not to move. 

December 22, 2016 
Location: Not Listed
A woman was home alone when she heard a series of knocks at her door. The woman told police she asked who was there, but got no response the two times the suspect knocked. An affidavit said the woman took a shower after the first time the man knocked and was watching TV the second time he knocked. On the third instance, the woman said she wrote it off as a prankster and opened the door. The suspect, who was wearing a hoodie and covering his face with a mask, pushed her into the apartment and threatened her with a knife. The affidavit said the man asked for money and the woman gave him what cash she had. The man took the woman to a bedroom and the woman began pleading with him not to do anything to her, but the man told the woman to shut up or he would kill her. He raped the woman while holding a knife to her throat then left.

January 15, 2017
Location: 5700 block of North Knoll
The victim told police she had returned home from a shopping trip, parked, grabbed her bags and was headed to her apartment when she noticed a man jogging through her apartment parking lot. When the woman unlocked her door, she realized a man was standing behind her, pointing a gun at her torso. The suspect asked the woman if anyone was home and the victim replied "no." The man then forced the woman into her apartment with the gun pointed to the back of her head. The document said he raped the woman, took cash and told her if she called police he would kill her. 

May 19, 2017
Location: 7800 Huebner
A  23-year-old woman told police she was in her parked car when she noticed a man pulling on her car door handle. The woman got out of the car and saw the man crouched on the passenger side of her car. The affidavit said the man grabbed the woman from behind and threatened her with a knife and told her if she screamed, he would stab her. The woman told police he demanded her car, but the woman responded asking why he was doing this to her. The man ran when another car drove by. In his interview Thursday with police, Harris admitted to using a knife in this attack and admitted to running from the scene before anything could happen. 

May 28, 2017
Location: 5600 Babcock
The victim was walking into her apartment when a man pushed his way in and put a gun to her face. The man stole the woman's phone and iPad mini after raping her. During a recorded interview, police say Harris confessed to the sexual assault.

Authorities had identified Harris, a former student at John Marshall High School, as a possible suspect in the string of crimes and contacted Northside Independent School District police for assistance in getting DNA evidence. An affidavit says an NISD officer recognized Harris and saw him drinking out of a straw on Harris' last day of school.

When Harris left the cafeteria, a custodian performing regular cleaning duties collected the straw and gave it to the NISD police officer who submitted it to the San Antonio Police Department for DNA testing.

An affidavit says forensic experts contacted the Special Victim's Unit and said the DNA collected from the straw matched six cases.

Harris was arrested in 2017 and taken in for questioning. An affidavit says Harris admitted to sexually assaulting a woman at knife point on May 28, "and a couple other females dating back to 2015." Harris also confessed to using a gun and a knife in his attacks, the document said.

About the Authors:

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.