Ariel Castro might face new charges that could lead to the death penalty, the Ohio prosecutor in charge of the case said Thursday.
Hours after Castro, 52, was arraigned on rape and kidnapping charges in connection with holding three female prisoners for about a decade, county prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said he would seek new charges that Castro abused some of his victims and forced them to have miscarriages.
Those charges, which could include aggravated murder, carry the death penalty in Ohio, the prosecutor said at a televised news conference.
“Based on the facts, I fully intend to seek charges for each and every act of sexual violence, rape, each day of kidnapping, every felonious assault, all his attempted murders and each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies” during the years the women were held, McGinty said.
"My office of the county prosecutor will also engage in a formal process in which we evaluate whether to seek charges eligible for the death penalty," he said. "The law of Ohio calls for the death penalty for those most depraved criminals who commit aggravated murder during the course of a kidnapping."
McGinty is the elected Cuyahoga county prosecutor who handles felony criminal cases in the Cleveland area. His office now takes over the case and will present evidence to a grand jury about the kidnappings that have mesmerized the nation since the women miraculously escaped on Monday after their years of captivity.
Castro was arrested Monday and has been held in connection with the kidnappings and abuse of the three women -- Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight -- at Castro’s house at 2207 Seymour Ave. Berry broke through a screen door Monday and with the help of neighbors, contacted police.
Berry, now 27, was just shy of her 17th birthday when she vanished in 2003. Knight, 32, was 20 when she disappeared in 2002. DeJesus was 14 when she went missing in 2004.
Earlier Thursday, Castro, a former school bus driver, was arraigned on four charges of kidnapping – one charge for each of the women and one for Berry’s 6-year-old daughter born in captivity. He was also accused of three counts of rape and ordered held in lieu of $8 million in bail.
Local media have reported that at least one of the women was beaten to force miscarriages ending her pregnancy. Officials have yet to officially confirm those accounts, attributed to an unreleased police report of the women’s interviews with authorities.
Officials have been careful not to reveal details of the women’s imprisonment, but have confirmed that it was brutal and involved repeated sexual assaults. Officials are carrying out tests to determine the paternity of Berry’s daughter.
If McGinty does seek a count for each day of captivity, the indictment could include hundreds of charges.
“The horrific brutality and torture the victims endured for more than decade is beyond comprehension,” he said.
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