Photo Credit: Mark Duncan (AP)
Ariel Castro has been deemed mentally fit to stand trial and work with attorneys for his defense by Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Russo. Castro recently came into the national spotlight after being charge with holding three women captive in his Cleveland, Ohio home for roughly decade. Castro’s trial is slated for later this summer.
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Prosecutor Saleh Awadallah stated that a meeting is scheduled for July 11 to discuss seeking the death penalty. The charge that puts the death penalty on the table is that of aggravated murder stating that he cause purposeful termination of one of the imprisoned women’s pregnancies. Awadallah left the door open for Craig Weintraub—Ariel Castro’s attorneys—to present evidence before the meeting should they seek to get death taken off the table.
Awadallah also said that prosecutors would be checking with the Cuyahoga grand jury to bring up more charges on Castro possibly to ensure there’s no possible way for him to elude significant time in prison. With Castro facing 329 counts, the odds of him beating them all are slim.
Previously, Castro’s legal team has mentioned that he could plead guilty if the death penalty was off the table. One would think that he would plead guilty as a means to escape it if it was concrete that they would seek death.
Following the hearing, Ariel Castro asked to visit the child he fathered with one of the victims. Judge Michael Russo promptly denied Castro’s request stating “I just think that would be inappropriate,”
As it stands, Castro has pleaded not guilty to an indictment numbering over 320 counts of rape, kidnapping, imprisonment, assault, and aggravated murder among others. The victims were kidnapped between 2002-2004 at the ages of 14, 16, and 20 and held in his home in Cleveland for ten years. In that time Castro fathered a daughter—now six years old—with a woman he starved. He is also accused of punching one of the women and causing a miscarriage. Castro was apprehended May 6th when one of his captives managed to escape and call for help.
While another hearing is slated for later this month on the 24th, Ariel Castro’s trial is scheduled for August 5th, although Judge Michael Russo mentioned that it could be delayed.