Cleveland Kidnapping Suspect Ariel Castro Indicted On 329 Counts

Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man accused of holding three women prisoner for a decade, has been indicated on 329 counts, and there are likely more to come:

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cuyahoga County grand jury returned a 329-count indictment this afternoon against Ariel Castro, charging the 52-year-old Cleveland man with the kidnapping and rape of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

Two count of the indictment charged Castro with aggravated murder for “purposely and with prior calculation and design causing the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy,” said County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty. The counts refer to the same incident, but involve different sections of Ohio criminal code, allowing prosecutors to pursue different legal theories.

The indictments cover only the period from August of 2002, when the first of the three women discovered in his Seymour Avenue house disappeared, until February of 2007. The women were held as prisoners for a decade.

Castro also was indicted on 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felonious assault and one count of possession of criminal tools.

He will be arraigned on those charges next week, and a trial judge will be assigned at that time, McGinty said.

“Today’s indictments represent a first major step in the criminal justice process,” said McGinty. “Our investigation continues, and we will present our findings to the grand jury.”

“When the indictment process is complete, the County Prosecutor’s Capital Review Committee will consider whether this case is appropriate to attach a death penalty specification,” McGinty said.

Castro’s attorney said he had not yet seen a copy of the 142-page indictment, but was aware that the document contained charges against his client of aggravated murder and others that covered a “portion of the dates the women were held in captivity.”

“Although our client was charged with aggravated murder for the death of a fetus, we are pleased that Mr. McGinty has not rushed to a decision and did not seek a death specification that would have made this a death penalty case,” said defense lawyer Craig Weintraub.

“It would be unprecedented to pursue the death penalty for the alleged death of a fetus, without the death of the mother. We are hopeful that the prosecutor’s office and the public understand and agree that the death penalty should never be used as leverage to attempt to obtain a plea bargain,” Weintraub said.

Castro would be the first person in Ohio for whom the death penalty is sought for the murder of a fetus, and based on some of the legal analysis, it would appear that there are some significant legal questions about the statute that makes such a murder death penalty eligible. So, while there may be political pressure on McGinty to seek the death penalty here, it’s not clear that he can make it stick in the end. More broadly, though, it seems clear that there will be additional charges coming against Castro given that the current indictment only covers a period ending six years before the women were finally freed. In that case, the prosecution may want to put the death penalty on the table as a  means of forcing plea negotiations because, quite honestly, Castro clearly doesn’t have much of a factual defense to the other underlying charges.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Caj says:

    He is one sick individual. But we have many sick individuals out there who think they can do what they like and get away with it. Whatever punishment he gets will never be enough for the anguish he caused those families for all those years.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    And the anguish that will continue, possibly for generations.

    I try to avoid pre-judging cases but, clearly, severe injustices were afflicted on these poor women over a protracted period. There are a number of larger questions here but I don’t think that one of them is “how can there be such horrible individuals?”. The question that should be considered is how did the injustices remain secret for so long?

  3. Tyrell says:

    It does seem that there were some signs that something was wrong here. Boarded up windows, all kinds of junk in the back yard, and the fact that this creep had a serious record. The police had plenty of reason to go in especially the fact of missing persons in the area. The neighbors also should have noticed that things did not seem right.
    Hopefully people will now take more of an active interest in their neighborhoods and keep them cleaned up .