The Ohio kidnapping and rape suspect’s list of charges may soon include aggravated murder, according to a prosecutor. Ariel Castro, who allegedly held three women hostage for a decade, could face the death penalty.
Castro, 52, remained silent in a Cleveland courtroom on Thursday, where he stood charged of kidnapping and raping three women. He was in court for his bond hearing, in which an $8 million bond was set.
County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced after the court appearance that his office plans to also charge Castro with aggravated murder, which could carry the death penalty.
"The law of Ohio calls for the death penalty for those most depraved criminals who commit aggravated murder during the course of a kidnapping," he said.
Castro is suspected of having lured three women into his car in separate incidences between 2002 and 2004. The horrors came to light on Monday, when one of the kidnapped women, Amanda Berry, 27, staged a daring escape by screaming for help.
Berry told police it was her first opportunity to try to escape in the past 10 years. She seized the opportunity while Castro was briefly out of the house.
Hearing her cries for help, a neighbor helped break down the door, and authorities later discovered the two other women, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, in the home. Berry's, six-year-old daughter apparently concieved and born in captivity, was also rescued. Castro is charged with her kidnap as well.
Police say the women were subjected to repeated beatings, starvation and sexual assault, as well as multiple forced miscarriages. McGinty said the aggravated murder charges could be filed in relation to the forcefully terminated pregnancies.
During captivity, Knight suffered at least five miscarriages that she told police were intentionally caused by her being starved and beaten, according to an initial police report.
Authorities also said the women were apparently bound by ropes and chains at times in the house. Assistant county prosecutor Brian Murphy said the suspect used the women "in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit."
All three women have told police they were abducted after accepting rides from Castro.
Berry and DeJesus went home to see their families on Wednesday, but Knight remains hospitalized.
Kathleen DeMetz, a public defender who represented Castro in court on Thursday, said the suspect would probably be under suicide watch at the county jail, where he will await trial.
Police also arrested Castro’s brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, but authorities have determined that they had no knowledge of the abductions.
tm/ccp (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)