Ariel Castro pleads not guilty in Ohio kidnap case - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Ariel Castro pleads not guilty in Ohio kidnap case

Posted: Updated:
Ariel Castro Ariel Castro
CLEVELAND -

A man accused of holding three women captive in his home for about a decade pleaded not guilty Wednesday to hundreds of rape and kidnapping charges, and the defense hinted at avoiding a trial with a plea deal if the death penalty were ruled out.

The death penalty is in play because among the accusations facing Ariel Castro, 52, is that he forced a miscarriage by one of the women, which is considered a killing under Ohio law. That charge doesn't include a possible death penalty, but a prosecutor has said that's under review.

The women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each said they had accepted a ride from Castro, who remained friends with the family of one girl and even attended vigils over the years marking her disappearance.

Castro, dressed Wednesday in an orange jail outfit with his hands and ankles shackled and a full dark beard grown in jail, kept his chin tucked on his chest through a brief court appearance. He didn't speak or glance at his two attorneys standing by his side.

Attorney Craig Weintraub acknowledged afterward that "certain charges in the indictment cannot be disputed" and said the defense was working to avoid an "unnecessary trial" with a possible death penalty sentence.

"Mr. Castro currently faces hundreds of years in prison with the current charges," Weintraub said. "It is our hope that we can continue to work toward a resolution to avoid having an unnecessary trial about aggravated murder and the death penalty."

The prosecutor's office will look at the defense remarks but had no immediate comment, said Joe Frolik, spokesman for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.

The 329-count indictment returned Friday covered only the period from August 2002, when the first of the women disappeared, to February 2007. More charges could be filed.

Castro was indicted on 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felonious assault and one count of possession of criminal tools. He was also charged with two counts of aggravated murder related to one act, saying he purposely caused the unlawful termination of one of the pregnancies of one of the women.

Michelle Knight, now 32, has told investigators Castro punched her in the abdomen and starved her to force five miscarriages, according to police reports.

Ohio enacted a fetal homicide law in 1996, making it illegal to kill or injure a viable fetus. That law and similar ones in 37 other states have been used mainly to win convictions in car crashes in which pregnant women died or in cases involving attacks on expectant mothers.

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court banned the death penalty for child rapes in which no death occurred, spelling out that a killing is the only crime eligible for the death penalty outside of a crime against the state.

A death penalty case against Castro "would raise serious legal questions about whether a murder has occurred and whether such a death sentence complies" with the Supreme Court ruling, according to Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment.

Weintraub, the defense attorney, said he expects a decision from prosecutors on the death penalty might hinge on medical and forensic evidence, such as any fetal tissue that may have been found at the home. Investigations haven't detailed what evidence was found.

The indictment alleges Castro repeatedly restrained the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van. It says one of the women tried to escape and he assaulted her with a vacuum cord around her neck.

A statement issued on behalf of the women said days like the arraignment "are not easy" and added: "We are hopeful for a just and prompt resolution. We have great faith in the prosecutor's office and the court."

Castro has been held on $8 million bail.

He was arrested May 6, shortly after one of the women broke through a door and yelled to neighbors for help.

She told a police dispatcher in a dramatic 911 call: "Help me. I'm Amanda Berry. I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm, I'm here, I'm free now."

The Associated Press does not usually identify people who may be victims of sexual assault, but the names of the three women were widely circulated by their families, friends and law enforcement authorities for years during their disappearances and after they were found.

  • Accident causing lane closures on Interstate 81-North

    Accident causing lane closures on Interstate 81 North

    Accident causing lane closures on Interstate 81 North

    Friday, July 25 2014 6:30 AM EDT2014-07-25 10:30:13 GMT
    BOTETOURT COUNTY (WSLS) -- All four lanes of I81 northbound are closed in Botetourt County this morning at mile marker 167.8 due to a vehicle accident.
    BOTETOURT COUNTY (WSLS) -- All four lanes of I81 northbound are closed in Botetourt County this morning at mile marker 167.8 due to a vehicle accident.
  • Floydfest attracts people from all walks of life

    Floydfest attracts people from all walks of life

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 11:26 PM EDT2014-07-24 03:26:58 GMT
    FloydFest 13 kicked off on Wednesday. Thousands of people from different walks of life will attend various events. Some come to the music festival to escape the monotony of everyday living."
    FloydFest 13 kicked off on Wednesday. Thousands of people from different walks of life will attend various events. Some come to the music festival to escape the monotony of everyday living."

  • 10 Things to Know for Today

    10 Things to Know for Today

    Friday, July 25 2014 7:12 AM EDT2014-07-25 11:12:28 GMT
    By The Associated Press Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
    By The Associated Press Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • 77-year-old questioned, defended as true Marine after NFL player takes his photo

    77-year-old questioned, defended as true Marine after NFL player takes his photo

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:58 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:58:35 GMT
    (WMC) - It was a story that made its rounds on social media. On a recent flight DeAngelo Williams, Mid-Southerner and running back for the Carolina Panthers, gave his first-class plane seat to a 77-year-old
    Family members are upset and hurt that their relative, James Wesley Bolden, is being called a liar and "a fake."
  • Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Thursday, July 10 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-07-11 00:01:10 GMT
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
  • Air Algerie jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

    Air Algerie jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

    Friday, July 25 2014 2:56 AM EDT2014-07-25 06:56:56 GMT
    The official Algerian news agency says an Air Algerie flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers has disappeared from the radar.
    An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, the third major international aviation disaster in a week.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.