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Cleveland Kidnap Suspect Ariel Castro Could Face Death Penalty

By: CBS/AP
By: CBS/AP
An Ohio prosecutor says he may seek the death penalty against the man accused of imprisoning three women at his home for about a decade for forcing them to suffer miscarriages.

Ariel Castro (Credit: City of Cleveland, Dept. of Law/CBS)

An Ohio prosecutor says he may seek the death penalty against the man accused of imprisoning three women at his home for about a decade for forcing them to suffer miscarriages.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Thomas McGinty says Ohio law calls for the death penalty for the "most depraved criminals who commit aggravated murder during the course of a kidnapping." He says aggravated murder charges could be filed related to pregnancies terminated by force.

Ariel Castro is being held on $8 million bail. The 52-year-old former school bus driver was under a suicide watch in jail, where he was being held on kidnapping and rape charges for holding three women - Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight - inside his home for about a decade.

Knight, who still hasn't been since in public, is said to be recovering in a hospital and has turned away visitors, CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds reports from Cleveland.

"She was severely beaten," said Knight's grandmother, Debora Knight. "He had beat so badly in the face, she has to have facial reconstruction, and she's lost hearing in one ear."

McGinty suggests the charges could number in the hundreds, if not thousands.

In his first court appearance Thursday, Castro looked down at the ground for almost the entire proceeding, biting his collar and signing documents with his handcuffed hands. He didn't speak.

The women found alive after years in captivity endured lonely, dark lives inside a dingy home where they were raped and allowed outside only a handful of times in disguises while walking to a garage steps away, investigators say.

Assistant county prosecutor Brian Murphy said the women were beaten repeatedly and sexually assaulted. He said Castro used the women "in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit."

While many questions remain about how Castro maintained such tight control over the women for so many years before one of them made a daring escape Monday, the horrors they suffered are beginning to come to light.

Castro lured the women into his vehicle, according to court documents filed Thursday.

Police say the women were apparently bound by ropes and chains at times and were kept in different rooms. They suffered prolonged sexual and psychological abuse and had miscarriages, according to a police report obtained Wednesday by CBS News, which corroborated information received earlier from a law enforcement source. Knight told police she suffered five miscarriages.

Castro has been charged with four counts of kidnapping - covering the captives and the daughter born to one of them - and three counts of rape, against all three women.

Years before his arrest Monday, Castro apparently contemplated committing suicide, CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton reports.

In a lengthy, handwritten note from 2004 discovered in his house by FBI agents, Castro allegedly confessed to taking the three women and said that he was abused as a child and raped by an uncle, according to a law enforcement source.

Reynolds also reports that Castro called himself a "sexual predator" and provided details about taking each of his victims. He blamed the women for their own kidnappings, but he asks for whatever money he has to be donated to his victims after his death.

Kathleen DeMetz, a public defender who represented Castro in court, said he would be transferred from a city jail medical unit where defendants charged with sex crimes or are considered a suicide risk are normally held.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told CNN Thursday night that his office received DNA profiles of Castro and will start trying to determine if he is involved in other crimes.

Earlier Thursday in court, Castro did not have a chance to talk to his two brothers, who were arrested and cleared without charges, DeMetz said.

The women and Castro have given lengthy statements to police that have helped build their case, said Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba.

None of the women, though, gave them any indication that Castro's two brothers, who had been in custody since Monday, were involved, Tomba said. Prosecutors brought no charges against the brothers, citing a lack of evidence. The brothers appeared in court before Castro, on unrelated charges, and were in the process of being released.

Pedro Castro, 54, pleaded no contest to an open container charge while two charges against Onil Castro, 50, were dismissed.

"Ariel kept everyone at a distance," Tomba said.

The women, now in their 20s and 30s, vanished separately between 2002 and 2004. At the time, they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.


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