Ohio prosecutor may seek execution in captive case
The man accused of raping and kidnapping three women in Cleveland and keeping them in captivity for ten years appeared in court for the first time to hear charges against him.
Ariel Castro was arraigned on four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape in a preliminary hearing Thursday morning. Castro appeared in a Cleveland courtroom with his public defender, Kathleen Demetz.
Castro, his head lowered and wearing a blue prison jumpsuit, did not speak as he stood next to a public defender. During the brief arraignment, the judge set bond at $8 million.
"Today the situation has turned. Mr. Castro stands before you as a captive, in captivity, a prisoner," said Brian Murphy, prosecutor.
He's charged with four counts of kidnapping and three of rape in the cases of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.
The prosecutor who will try the case said Thursday he may seek execution for Castro.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty says Ohio law calls for the death penalty for the "most depraved criminals who commit aggravated murder during the course of a kidnapping." He says aggravated murder charges could be filed related to pregnancies terminated by force.
The 52-year-old former school bus driver was under a suicide watch in jail, where he was being held on kidnapping and rape charges.
McGinty suggests the charges could number in the hundreds, if not thousands.
Pedro and Onil Castro, who were arrested alongside Ariel Castro Monday night, were quickly arraigned on old, unrelated misdemeanors. The two are not charged in connection with the kidnapping and will be released Thursday. Demetz spoke briefly after the hearing. She said there is no evidence linking the brothers to this case and there are no indications they had any knowledge of it.
"In municipal court here on a felony you don't enter a plea. The brothers had only minor misdemeanor cases, I want to stress that. The brothers are not charged with any felonies or anything to do with this case," said Demetz.
Berry, her daughter and Gina DeJesus returned home Wednesday to cheering crowds outside and emotional family members inside.
"There weren't many words said. There was a lot of tears, a lot of hugs and I think subliminally you knew what the other person was saying," said Matt Zone, a friend of the DeJesus family.
"When my granddaughter is missing that long there is no rest for you. It's something you carry with but it's over now," said Fern Gentry, Amanda Berry's grandmother.
The case now goes to a grand jury who will sort through the 200 bags of evidence removed from the home.
Demetz said Ariel Castro will be moved from a medical unit in the city jail, where he has been since Monday, to the county jail.
"He's going to be moved to a county jail sometime this morning. He was up on the sixth floor medical unit in our city jail but he will be transferred to the county now. Whenever there's a sensitive case such as this or a case of a sexual nature or there's any risk or any reason to put them in protective custody, that's where they are held," said Demetz.
Police say there's evidence in Castro's home that the women were bound in chains at various points over the past ten years. They also gave similar accounts of pregnancies and miscarriages.