KENNEWICK — A former Richland apartment complex maintenance worker will face a Jan. 3 trial for allegedly attacking and raping a woman in her apartment last year.
Cody Joseph Kloepper, 32, pleaded innocent Thursday in Benton County Superior Court to one count of first-degree rape for the Dec. 5 attack at The Villas at Meadow Springs, 250 Gage Blvd.
Kloepper, who was arrested Friday by Richland police, was a maintenance employee at The Villas until he became a suspect in the attack.
He was being held in the Benton County jail on $250,000 bail, but Judge Robert Swisher reduced bail to $150,000 after a lengthy argument by Kloepper's defense attorney.
Dan Arnold said his client has lived in the area for six years, has two children between the ages of 6 and 8 and has no prior felonies and no violent misdemeanor convictions.
"Probably one of the most important things is he was identified as a suspect in January, and he remained in the community and never tried to flee," Arnold said.
He said he didn't want Kloepper to spend seven months in jail like a prior suspect did before the charge was dropped against him.
"For seven months, the state said, 'That's the guy, that guy over there,' " Arnold said referring to the original suspect. "And the victim said, 'It's that guy over there.' "
Arnold pointed out the victim identified the first suspect, a 36-year-old Richland man, out of a photo lineup with 23 pictures and picked him out with 95 percent certainty.
Kloepper's picture was in the group, and the victim didn't choose him, Arnold said. He also said the victim said her attacker was 6-foot to 6-foot-2, and Kloepper is 6-foot-4.
Police said, however, that Kloepper had cut his hair before they talked to him and took his picture, so the victim didn't select him because she was looking for someone with long hair, documents said.
Charges were dropped against the initial suspect in July after DNA evidence -- the tip of a bloody glove -- found at the crime scene excluded him as a suspect.
Kloepper's DNA could not be excluded as a match, court documents said.
"That doesn't mean it's his," Arnold said. "It just didn't exclude him. That's the only difference (in the case). Just one piece of evidence."
Deputy Prosecutor Kristin McRoberts said bail should remain at $250,000 because of the seriousness of the offense, and the fact that if he's convicted, Kloepper is facing "significant prison time."
"The state is extremely concerned he is a danger to the community and specifically to the victim," she said.
McRoberts said the victim was badly injured and was threatened with death if she identified him.
She said the victim did say initially that her attacker looked like Kloepper but that she could not believe it was him.
"The victim was hit in the head and she did make a misidentification the first time," McRoberts acknowledged. "That's something that will be an issue at trial."
But, she noted, investigators have DNA evidence against Kloepper and proof that he lied to multiple people about his whereabouts and had been placed at the scene of the crime.
Police and prosecutors allege Kloepper stayed overnight in a vacant unit at the apartment complex the night the woman was attacked.
She told police she heard someone in her apartment around 4 a.m. and that she believed she had locked her door.
As a maintenance worker, Kloepper would have had keys to the apartment, court documents said.
The woman said someone came up behind her in the kitchen, hit her on the head with a metal bar and then sexually assaulted her.
She received extensive injuries, including a broken right arm, broken left wrist and blunt force trauma to her head.
Judge Swisher said considerable bail was required because Kloepper is charged with a "very serious, very egregious offense" but agreed to reduce it to $150,000.
If Kloepper posts bail, he is required to have no contact with the victim and to stay in Benton and Franklin counties.
Paula Horton: 509-582-1556; email@example.com