Prosecutors Plan More Charges Against Ariel Castro, Trial Tentatively Set For August

ABC News
Prosecutors Plan More Charges Against Ariel Castro, Trial Tentatively Set For August
Prosecutors Plan More Charges Against Ariel Castro, Trial Tentatively Set For August (ABC News)

More charges could be added to the 329-count indictment against alleged Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro, who appeared in court today for a brief pre-trial hearing.

"We are presenting additional evidence to the grand jury next week and week after. We expect that we are going to request further indictments," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said today.

A tentative Aug. 4 trial date was set today for Castro, who was indicted earlier this month for allegedly kidnapping Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight and imprisoning them, sometimes restrained by chains, in his Cleveland home.

The former school bus driver is also accused of the aggravated murder of a fetus for allegedly forcibly causing an abortion in one of his victims that he is accused of impregnating, a charge that could potentially carry the death penalty.

The 52-year-old walked into Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court today in shackles, with his head hung low, and answered "yes" and "no" to the judge's questions before another pre-trial hearing was set for June 26.

Castro's defense attorney, Craig Weintraub, said at a news conference last week that he hoped the two sides could work "towards a resolution to avoid a trial" and to avoid the death penalty for Castro. He called on prosecutors to drop the aggravated murder charge.

"Mr. Castro currently faces hundreds of years in prison with the current charges," Weintraub said, according to the AP. "It is our hope that we can continue to work toward a resolution to avoid having an unnecessary trial about aggravated murder and the death penalty."

Castro is accused of kidnapping Berry, DeJesus and Knight, imprisoning them in his home and repeatedly raping them. He has pleaded not guilty.

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The women were freed on May 6 when Berry, who delivered Castro's baby while in captivity, cried out for help from behind a closed screen door, getting the attention of neighbors.

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"Help me. I'm Amanda Berry. I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm, I'm here, I'm free now," she told a 911 dispatcher, as she escaped the home with her daughter, who is now 6 years old.

Since their rescue, the women have remained out of the public eye.

"We understand the legal process needs to run its course," lawyer James Wooley said on behalf of the three women. "We are hopeful for a just and prompt resolution. We have great faith in the prosecutor's office and the court."

ABC News' Russell Goldman contributed reporting.