News / USA

Prosecutor Says He May Seek Death Penalty Against Accused US Kidnapper

Ariel Castro appears in court for his initial appearance in Cleveland, Ohio, May 9, 2013.
Ariel Castro appears in court for his initial appearance in Cleveland, Ohio, May 9, 2013.
Reuters
An Ohio prosecutor said on Thursday he will seek aggravated murder charges, which could carry the death penalty, against a former Cleveland school bus driver accused of kidnapping and raping three women during a decade of captivity in his house.
 
The charges would stem from the forced miscarriages that police say were suffered by one of the women at the hands of Ariel Castro, who is accused of holding them captive at his house in a low-income neighborhood of Cleveland.
 
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty told a news  conference that his office intends to pursue charges of kidnapping and sexual assault as well as aggravated murder.
 
Prosecutors also planned to file charges relating to the many abuses endured by Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight as well as Berry's 6-year-old daughter who was born in captivity, he said.
 
“I fully intend to seek charges for each and every act of sexual violence, rape, each day of kidnapping, every felonious assault, and each act of aggravated murder for terminating pregnancies that the offender perpetrated,'' he said.
 
The prosecutor's office will launch the official process to determine if the death penalty is appropriate, he said.
 
“Capital punishment must be reserved for those crimes that are truly the worst examples of human conduct,'' McGinty said.
 
Knight suffered at least five miscarriages that she told police were intentionally caused by Castro starving her and beating her in the abdomen, according to an initial police report.
 
The three women and child escaped on Monday from the house, where police said Castro used ropes and chains to hold them captive for around a decade, inflicting starvation, beatings and sexual abuse. Berry, now 27, disappeared in 2003, the day before her 17th birthday. DeJesus, 23, vanished in 2004, and Knight, 32, went missing in 2002.
 
The city of Cleveland has already filed kidnapping and rape charges against Castro, who appeared briefly in a municipal court on Thursday. Felony charges stemming from crimes that occurred in the city are first handled in municipal court and then transferred to the county court.
 
First Public Appearance
 
Castro's court appearance was the first time he has been seen in public since his arrest on Monday. Municipal Court Judge Lauren Moore set bond for Castro at $8 million.
 
Castro's home “was a prison to these three women and the child,'' Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Brian Murphy told the judge. “Today the situation is turned on him,'' Murphy said. “Mr. Castro stands before you a captive, in captivity, a prisoner.''
 
The judge also ordered Castro to have no contact with the victims or their families. Their imprisonment came to an end on Monday when Berry, helped by neighbors who heard her screams, broke through a locked door.
 
During the municipal court proceedings that lasted less than five minutes, Castro neither spoke nor entered a plea. He kept his face turned away from the gallery that was crowded with media and spectators.
 
Castro's court appointed lawyer, Kathleen DeMetz, said he  would be placed on suicide watch in jail and is expected to be held in isolation, the lawyer said.
 
He would need $800,000 cash - 10 percent of the bond amount - to get out of jail.
 
“The man doesn't have any money,'' Metz said. “He clearly doesn't have that,'' noting that Castro had been unemployed since being fired from his job driving school busses last November.
 
Birth in a Plastic Pool
 
Berry told police that her escape on Monday had been her first chance to break free in the 10 years that she was held, seizing the opportunity during Castro's momentary absence.
 
Her baby was born in a plastic inflatable children's swimming pool on Christmas Day, 2006, authorities said. A paternity test will be conducted to determine the girl's father.
 
The women told police their abductions occurred when Castro offered them rides and they accepted, authorities said.
 
McGinty, the county prosecutor, said assembling a multitude of charges against Castro could take time, considering the ordeals the victims experienced.
 
“They need a chance to heal before we can seek further in-depth evidence from them,'' he said, describing them as having “found the internal strength and courage to outlast their tormentor and survive a decade of torture and depravity.''
 
Berry and DeJesus went home with family members on Wednesday, while Knight remained hospitalized in good condition.  


Photo Gallery: Missing Women Found in Cleveland

  • Ariel Castro, who is charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape, appears in Cleveland Municipal Court, May 9, 2013.
  • Nancy Ruiz, mother of Gina DeJesus, speaks to the media after bringing her daughter home in Cleveland, Ohio, May 8, 2013.
  • Pastor Larry Harris leads a prayer vigil near the home where three women were held captive for a decade, in Cleveland, Ohio, May 8, 2013.
  • A sheriff deputy stands outside a house where three women escaped after going missing a decade ago, Cleveland, Ohio, May 7, 2013.
  • Amber Berry hugs her sister Beth Serrano after being reunited in a Cleveland hospital Monday May 6, 2013. (Family Handout courtesy WOIO-TV)
  • Members of the FBI evidence team remove items from a house where three missing women were found, Cleveland, Ohio, May 6, 2013.
  • Police and FBI congregate outside a house where three missing women were found, Cleveland, Ohio, May 6, 2013.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs