Castro to plead innocence at trial amid new cruelty claims
Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man accused of kidnapping and raping three women during a decade of captivity at his run-down home, will plead not guilty to the charges, his lawyer has said.
His portrayal as a "monster" was an unfair attempt by the media to "demonise this man before (people) know the whole story", Craig Weintraub told a Cleveland television station.
He said that the former school bus driver (52) "loves dearly" the six-year-old daughter whom he fathered with Amanda Berry (27), one of his alleged victims.
The protestations of innocence came as law enforcement sources compared the conditions in Mr Castro's house to those endured by prisoners of war.
Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, the other alleged victims, suffered malnutrition and would require long-term treatment, the source said.
In the most detailed description yet of life inside the house, the women were said to have been restrained by chains found fixed to the walls and dog leads hung from the ceiling in the basement of the two-storey home.
The captives were bound by duct tape and held in "stress positions", leaving them with bed sores and other injuries, according to the sources, who have direct knowledge of the investigation but who asked not to be named.
The upstairs bedrooms, where they were held in the later stages of their captivity, were furnished with only a mattress on the floor and had padlocks on the outside.
"If he left for long periods of time, he would sometimes duct tape the women over all parts of their faces, even their eyes, only leaving an opening so they could breathe," the source said.
"Then he would just rip it off, pulling off skin and hair."
A friend of Ms Knight said that she was treated as a "punch bag" and could require facial reconstruction surgery.
Ms Knight (32) and Ms DeJesus (23) were in significantly worse condition than Ms Berry, who seemed to have received preferential physical treatment from their alleged captor.
Mr Castro has been charged with seven counts of kidnapping and rape.
Jaye Schlachet, another lawyer for Mr Castro, said that evidence of his innocence "will be disclosed as the case progresses". (© Daily Telegraph, London)