Plea deal offered to Cleveland kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro, TV station reports

Jeff Stacklin
Yahoo! News
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A plea deal has been offered to the man accused of kidnapping three Cleveland women and raping them repeatedly while he held them in captivity at his home during the past decade, according to a Cleveland TV station.

If Ariel Castro, 53, of Cleveland accepts the deal, he would avoid the death penalty, according to a report by WKYC-TV in Cleveland. The deal, however, has not been finalized.

A final pretrial hearing has been scheduled for Friday morning, said a spokeswoman for Judge Michael Russo, who is presiding over the case.

Maria Russo, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty’s spokeswoman, said she could not confirm if a formal deal had been offered to Castro.

Phone calls to Castro’s defense attorneys were not immediately returned.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys met in Russo’s courtroom on Wednesday and said they were working toward a plea deal.

A trial for Castro is scheduled for Aug. 5. He has pleaded not guilty to 977 charges, including murder, rape and kidnapping. According to the indictments, he is accused of beating and starving one of the women to force her to miscarry — a charge that could lead to the death penalty.

The women — Gina DeJesus, 23, Michelle Knight, 32, and Amanda Berry, 27 — were freed from Castro’s home on the west side of Cleveland on May 6, along with Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, who was fathered by Castro during her captivity.