independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Castro denies rape and kidnap charges

Ariel Castro with his defence attorneys, Jaye Schlachet, left, and Craig Weintraub, right, during Castro's arraignment

A man accused of holding three women captive in his home for more than a decade has pleaded not guilty to 512 counts of kidnapping and 446 counts of rape.

Ariel Castro previously pleaded not guilty to charges in a 329-count indictment. The 53-year-old entered a plea on an expanded indictment.

The judge continued his bond at $8m (€6.1m). The earlier indictment reflected only part of the alleged crimes' timeframe.

Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus and Michelle Knight disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each said they had accepted a ride from Castro, who remained friends with Ms Dejesus's family and even attended vigils over the years marking her disappearance.

Castro has been in custody since his arrest on May 6 shortly after the women escaped to freedom. In past court appearances, he has kept his head down, typically responding to a judge's questions with one-word answers.

He has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder related to one act, saying he purposely caused the unlawful termination of the pregnancy of one of the women.

The women appeared in a YouTube video last week to thank people who donated to a fund created to benefit them. They otherwise have sought to stay out of sight and have appealed for privacy.

Castro is scheduled for trial on August 5.

Irish Independent

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