Aaron Thomas' first court appearance lasts only five minutes

Aaron Thomas

The suspected East Coast rapist appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday morning, a hearing during which Aaron Thomas quickly demanded access to an attorney.

Thomas, who was extradited to Prince William County on Tuesday, appeared through a video conference at a hearing that lasted all of five minutes.

Judge Scott Bailey said that Thomas is facing eight charges in Virginia: two for rape, three for use of a firearm during rape and three for abduction. But when Bailey asked the suspect if he understood the charges, Thomas sat silently for about 45 seconds before saying no.

When the judge asked Thomas, who stared at the floor throughout the hearing, what he meant, he responded, "I want an attorney."

A preliminary hearing for Thomas has been set for Jan. 25.

Thomas is accused of raping 17 women over a span of more than a decade in locations across the East Coast. He was arrested in March near his home in New Haven, Conn., where pleaded not guilty to charges of raping a woman in 2007.

Authorities say they have DNA evidence that links him to crimes against a dozen women.