Accused "ski mask rapist" Jerry Lee Brooks pleaded not guilty Thursday. Brooks rejected a plea deal that would have kept him behind bars for life.
Two of his accusers sat in on the hearing and held hands when Brooks was brought into the courtroom. It was the first time Amy Outten laid eyes on the man accused of raping her inside her Central Avenue apartment in 1979.
She said, "He looked like a man who was insecure. I feel sorry for him."
Investigators said DNA evidence connected Brooks to three separate attacks in Charlotte in the 1970s. He was arrested in South Carolina last summer.
Outten talked to Channel 9 minutes after Brooks pleaded not guilty.
"Mainly I just hate being in the same room, that's all. I just hate being around him,” Outten said.
Brooks rejected a plea deal from prosecutors that would have combined the three rape charges into one life sentence.
He was also offered three consecutive sentences of 20 years to life, for burglary and armed robbery connected to the attacks.
Now the case heads to trial, forcing his accusers to take the painful journey of recounting the attacks.
Outten said it will be difficult, but she is ready.
"I'm not intimidated anymore. He told me he would kill me if I told somebody. I told somebody the very next day and I'm telling everybody now," Outten said. "I’m going to see this through for me and all other women who have to go through this."
Brooks remains in jail and is set to return to court at the end of June.