CLEVELAND — A man charged with holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for about a decade and raping them is competent to stand trial, a judge has ruled.
Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Russo said Wednesday the results of an examination of Ariel Castro last week showed he is mentally able to understand the charges and assist attorneys in his defense.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Saleh Awadallah said a meeting is planned July 11 to discuss the possibility of seeking the death penalty for Castro, 52. He faces aggravated murder charges stemming from allegations that he caused the deliberate termination of one of the women’s pregnancies.
Mr. Awadallah invited Castro’s attorney, Craig Weintraub, to submit evidence to him before the meeting to support an argument against the death penalty.
Castro’s attorneys have hinted that he might plead guilty if capital punishment were taken off the table.
Mr. Awadallah said prosecutors would go back to the county grand jury to seek more charges against Castro, but he didn’t know when.
At the end of the hearing, Castro, his bearded chin tucked to his chest for most of time, asked the judge for permission to visit the child he fathered with one of the women he is accused of kidnapping and raping.
Judge Russo denied the request. “I just think that would be inappropriate.”
Castro has pleaded not guilty to a 329-count indictment alleging he kidnapped three women off the streets between 2002 and 2004 when they were 14, 16, and 20 years old and held them for a decade in his two-story home in Cleveland.
He fathered a 6-year-old daughter with one woman and is accused of starving and punching a second to cause a miscarriage. He was arrested May 6, shortly after one woman broke through a door at the home and yelled for help.
The trial is set for Aug. 5, but Judge Russo said it could be delayed. Another hearing is slated for July 24.