Prosecutors plan more charges against accused Cleveland kidnapper

CLEVELAND Wed Jun 19, 2013 11:37am EDT

1 of 2. Ariel Castro (R), 52, enters the court room for a pre-trial hearing on charges including rape, kidnapping and murder in Cleveland, Ohio June 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Aaron Josefczyk

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CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Prosecutors want to bring additional charges as soon as possible against a former Cleveland school-bus driver accused of holding three women captive in his home and torturing them for a decade, authorities said on Wednesday.

Ariel Castro, 52, has pleaded not guilty to more than 300 charges against him including rape and kidnapping in connection with the imprisonment of Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32. The women were rescued in May from Castro's house along with Berry's 6-year-old daughter.

Now prosecutors expect to present evidence to a grand jury in the next two weeks to add more charges against Castro, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said during a brief pre-trial hearing.

The indictment against Castro includes 139 counts of rape and 177 counts of kidnapping, and covers the period from August 2002, when Knight disappeared, to early 2007. He has not yet faced charges related to the daughter.

"We expect that we are going to request further indictments to cover the additional period and we are going to close that process as soon as possible," McGinty told the court.

Castro, held in a county jail on an $8 million bail, wore orange prison clothing and kept his head lowered during the brief hearing. He gave one-word answers to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Russo's questions about whether he understood the legal process and his rights.

The indictment also charges Castro with aggravated murder for impregnating Knight between November 2006 and February 2007 and forcing her to miscarry by assaulting her. McGinty has said he would seek a death penalty specification.

A committee will consider seeking the death penalty after a complete indictment is issued, prosecutors have said. Ohio is one of 38 U.S. states that have fetal homicide laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Castro's attorney, Craig Weintraub, has made it clear in a number of statements to the media that he is willing to discuss a plea agreement with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty.

"As I mentioned in our statement after the arraignment, we are very concerned about having the women go through the stress of a trial," Weintraub told reporters after Wednesday's hearing. "It is not our intent to have to do that."

Russo told the attorneys that a plea agreement was out of the question considering the number of counts and charges against Castro.

Cleveland police responded to Berry's 911 call on May 6 and found DeJesus and Knight inside the house. Berry had disappeared the day before her 17th birthday in 2003 after leaving her job at a Burger King restaurant. DeJesus was 14 when she disappeared on her way home from school in 2004.

Authorities have said DNA testing proves Castro fathered Berry's daughter.

Russo set the trial date as August 4 in the case, but said defense attorneys could request additional time. Another pre-trial hearing was scheduled for June 26.

(Writing by David Bailey; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Comments (8)
Boss_Man wrote:
This guy is the core of evil. Bullet in back of head too good for him.

Jun 19, 2013 8:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
rsajmc6 wrote:
“Castro’s attorney, Craig Weintraub, has made it clear in a number of statements to the media that he is willing to discuss a plea agreement with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty.”

Got to be kidding me….what “agreement” did he give them, when they were pleading that they wanted to go home!!

Jun 19, 2013 9:15am EDT  --  Report as abuse
SheWritesaLot wrote:
They’re pushing for a plea agreement for a couple of reasons – It avoids putting the women and their families through a lengthy and psychologically stressful trial, and it saves the state potentially millions of dollars in court costs and legal fees. Imagine how long it would take to try this guy on every single one of those charges. And really, a lot of people think death would be too easy for this guy. Make him suffer in jail, like he made his captives suffer. Let’s face it – jail is NOT going to be a joyride for THIS guy.

Jun 19, 2013 11:33am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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