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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid