(CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio) — More charges could be added to the 329-count indictment against alleged Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro, who appeared in court Wednesday for a brief pre-trial hearing.
“We are presenting additional evidence to the grand jury next week and week after. We expect that we are going to request further indictments,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said Wednesday.
A tentative Aug. 4 trial date was set Wednesday for Castro, who was indicted earlier this month for allegedly kidnapping Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight and imprisoning them, sometimes restrained by chains, in his Cleveland home.
The former school bus driver is also accused of the aggravated murder of a fetus for allegedly forcibly causing an abortion in Knight, who he is accused of impregnating, a charge that could potentially carry the death penalty. Knight told investigators she became pregnant five times by Castro, but he punched her in the belly until she miscarried. Berry later delivered Castro’s baby while in captivity. That girl is now 6.
The 52-year-old walked into Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday in shackles, with his head hung low, and answered “yes” and “no” to the judge’s questions before another pre-trial hearing was set for June 26.
Castro’s defense attorney, Craig Weintraub, said at a news conference last week that he hoped the two sides could work “towards a resolution to avoid a trial” and to avoid the death penalty for Castro. He called on prosecutors to drop the aggravated murder charge.
Castro has pleaded not guilty.
The women were freed on May 6 when neighbors heard Berry screaming for help behind a closed door.
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