East River trail attacker pleads no contest to 4 charges
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A teen charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman on the East River Trail pleaded no contest to four of the least serious charges against him Wednesday afternoon.
Miles Cruz, now 18, attacked a woman who was walking her 4-week-old baby on the trail on the north side of De Pere, near Allouez, dragged her off the trail and sexually assaulted her. The victim said she played dead so her attacker would stop choking her.
Cruz showed very little emotion in court, simply answering questions from the judge before entering pleas of no contest to 1st Degree Sexual Assault Causing Great Bodily Harm, Kidnapping, Strangulation/Suffocation, and 2nd Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety. Judge Tammy Jo Hock then found him guilty on each count.
The State dismissed the most serious charge of Attempted 1st Degree Intentional Homicide, which carried up to life in prison.
Prosecutors said the agreement, which came together in the past day, was a “fair offer.”
Cruz gave up his right to a jury trial which was scheduled to begin Monday. The judge made Cruz aware that even with his pleas, she could still give him the maximum sentences allowed.
He will be sentenced on January 6.
The victim did not ask to be heard at Wednesday’s plea hearing.
According to the criminal complaint, she was walking with the baby in a wrap attached to her body when someone stretched a sweatshirt around her head and pulled her backward.
At first, she felt she was going to get away because she fought back really hard, hooking her finger in her attacker’s mouth and scratching his face. She screamed thinking people in nearby houses would hear her. But the attacker’s arm was around her neck, and then his hands, and she felt her air being cut off for several seconds at a time. She didn’t know what happened to her baby, and she described passing out at least twice.
Police began searching for her after her husband reported she was overdue from her walk and found their baby lying in the grass along the trail. She was found 40 to 50 yards away. She spent time in the hospital because of her injuries. The baby was not harmed.
It happened on October 5, 2021, which was Cruz’s 17th birthday.
At about the same time police found the victim, a Brown County deputy was following a person who matched a witness’s description.
Cruz denied attacking anyone on the trail, but, according to the complaint, the victim’s DNA was found on his hands and in his clothing, including the hood of his sweatshirt. His DNA was found under the victim’s fingernail. Other DNA evidence was inconclusive or eliminated Cruz.
A five-day jury trial was scheduled to begin next Monday, Oct. 24. Instead, he is now awaiting sentencing. Consecutively, the maximum penalties for his crimes could carry 116 years in prison, including a maximum of 60 years for the sexual assault.
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