BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — An Oklahoma man arrested last week in the brutal 1997 attack and rape of Cari Anderson has pleaded not guilty to five felony charges.
Michael Allen Fontes, 47, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, kidnapping to commit a robbery, rape and another sexual assault offense. He’s held without bail and is due back in court July 8.
Anderson attended Tuesday’s hearing with her son, but before it began District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer ushered her outside and spoke with her until the proceeding was over.
Zimmer said afterward she wants Anderson’s first time viewing the the suspect, in fairness to all parties, to occur after Fontes has received legal representation and in the presence of a judge.
Ken Russell, the prosecutor handling the case, said the filing of charges in a case now 24 years old should give hope to victims, or families of victims, who have waited years or decades for an arrest. He gave credit to the Bakersfield Police Department’s Cold Case Unit for pursuing every lead and never giving up.
At the hearing, Judge Eric Bradshaw assigned Fontes’ case to the Public Defender’s Office.
Fontes is accused of attacking Anderson, then 39, on Nov. 23, 1997, and leaving her for dead behind Golden Empire Transit’s maintenance yard off Golden State Highway and F Street. Her throat had been slit and her head battered.
She suffered permanent disabilities and still bears scars from the attack.
Zimmer asked that anyone with information about unsolved crimes contact Secret Witness at 661-322-4040. She said any detail, no matter how small, could help point law enforcement in the right direction.