MIAMI (WSVN) - The first day in the trial of a suspected serial rapist accused of targeting multiple victims in South Florida began with the testimony of one of his alleged victims.
7News cameras captured Robert Koehler as he sat quietly in a Miami courtroom in a wheelchair, Thursday.
Investigators believe the 63-year-old suspect, nicknamed the “Pillowcase Rapist,” is responsible for dozens of rapes in the early to mid-1980s.
Authorities said Koehler covered the faces of his victims with blankets or pillowcases.
Koehler was arrested in 2020 after, investigators said, DNA evidence linked him to a case from Dec. 28, 1983.
“Koehler is the source of that male DNA that was found in so many of those ‘Pillowcase Rapist’ cases,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle back in 2020.
His alleged victim in this case took the stand on Thursday. She said she was 25 years old when she was attacked and raped in her West Miami-Dade apartment.
“I was jumped from behind, from the right side. He spoke to me kind of like in hushed tones, ‘Shut up, quiet,'” she said. “He covered my mouth, and he put a sharp object, which I ended up not seeing, a sharp object up against my stomach on the right side.”
The alleged victim, who asked to remain anonymous, said Koehler took her to her bedroom.
“Threw me down on the bed, and he covered my head with the blanket,” she said. “I recall him asking me, ‘Do you have jewelry, money?’ And I said, ‘I don’t have any, but my purse, my credit cards are in the living room.”
At one point, the alleged victim said, she tried to lift the blanket.
“So I could maybe see him or see something. Once I did that, he hit me in the face. He broke my lip,” she said.
The doctor who examined the victim after the attack, the lead investigator on the case and Koehler’s childhood friend also testified on Thursday.
“He told me that he was being framed, that he was innocent of what he’s charged with,” said the suspect’s childhood friend.
During opening statements, Koehler’s attorney told jurors that her client was framed by crooked police.
“It was the corrupt police who used Mr. Koehler to frame him for these crimes,” said the attorney.
It was a lot for jurors to take in about the decades-old cases. Perhaps the most powerful testimony came from the alleged victim when asked about her fortitude in the years since her attack.
“How is it that you’re so strong after all this?” a prosecutor asked the alleged victim.
“Because I’m not going to let the worst thing that ever happened to me control the rest of my life, simple as that,” said the alleged victim.
Investigators said they have DNA evidence linking Koehler to at least six rapes.
Proceedings have wrapped up for the day and are expected to resume on Friday.
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