Ariel Castro Faces 329 Charges In Cleveland, OH Women Kidnapping Case

6:41 PM, Jun 7, 2013   |    comments
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Donna Leinwand Leger, USA TODAY

Ariel Castro, 52, the former school bus driver accused of holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for nearly a decade, was charged late Friday with murder and more than 300 counts of rape and kidnapping.

The Cuyahoga County grand jury's 329-count indictment charges Castro with one count of aggravated murder for allegedly terminating one of his captives' pregnancies, 139 counts of rape and 177 charges of kidnapping, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felony assault and one count of possession of criminal tools dating from the time of the first woman's disappearance until February of 2007.

County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a statement that the investigation is still underway. Additional charges could follow in a superseding indictment.

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The indictment charges Castro as a "sexually violent predator" who committed the murder and rapes in the course of a kidnapping. Those charges are considered aggravating factors that call for stiffer penalties. The murder charge is tied to one victim's fourth pregnancy, the indictment said.

The County Prosecutor's Capital Review Committee will consider whether prosecutors should seek the death penalty if Castro is convicted. Castro, who was fired last year from his job as a school bus driver, is being held in the Cuyahoga County jail on $8 million bail. A judge will arraign Castro on the new charges next week, McGinty said.

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Amanda Berry, one of the kidnapped women broke free from Castro's home on the west side of Cleveland on May 6 and led police to Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. Berry gave birth to a daughter while held captive. Berry, now 27, disappeared April 21, 2003, a day before her 17th birthday. Knight, now 32, disappeared Aug. 22, 2002, the day she was to appear at a custody hearing for her son. DeJesus, now 21, disappeared April 2, 2004.

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Castro allegedly chained Knight to a pole in the basement and raped her the day after he took her captive, the indictment says. He allegedly taped Berry's legs and mouth, sexually assaulted her after she tried to escape, chained her to a pole in the basement with a motorcycle helmet on her head, chained her to a radiator in the bedroom, and attempted to strangle her with a vacuum cleaner cord, the indictment says. He also allegedly chained and assaulted DeJesus.

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McGinty said after Castro's arrest last month that he would ask the grand jury to charge Castro for every day of the women's captivity and for every instance of sexual assault.

Castro, who was fired last year from his job as a school bus driver, is being in the Cuyahoga County Jail on $8 million bail.

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