Castro pleads not guilty in Ohio kidnappings

Ariel Castro made a brief court appearance in which he pleaded not guilty to holding three women captive in Ohio.
Ariel Castro made a brief court appearance in which he pleaded not guilty to holding three women captive in Ohio. (TONY DEJAK / AP)
Posted: June 13, 2013

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 one of the women to miscarry, which is considered a killing under Ohio law. That charge doesn't include the possible death penalty, but a prosecutor has said that was under review.

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

Attorney Craig Weintraub acknowledged afterward that "certain charges in the indictment cannot be disputed" and that the defense was working to avoid an "unnecessary trial."

"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 had no immediate comment.

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