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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid