Cleveland, OH -- Attorneys for Ariel Castro say he plans to plead not guilty if a Cuyahoga County grand jury indicts him on kidnapping and rape charges in connection with the decade-long disappearance of three women.
Speaking exclusively to WKYC-TV, attorneys Craig Weintraub and Jaye Schlachet say that Castro has been unjustly depicted in news accounts.
"The initial portrayal by the media has been one of a 'monster' and that's not the impression that I got when I talked to him for three hours," Weintraub said.
Castro, 52, is currently in Cuyahoga County Jail on charges of kidnapping and raping Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus in his Seymour Avenue house on Cleveland's near west side. Knight was reported missing in 2002, Berry in 2003 and DeJesus in 2004.
Weintraub said that Castro has not admitted anything to him, including the kidnappings.
When asked how the three women ended up in Castro's home, Weintraub said: "That fact will be disclosed as the case progresses. I am aware of how he came into contact with them."
DNA tests have also confirmed that Castro fathered a child with Berry, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has said.
"I can tell you that Mr. Castro is extremely committed to the well-being and positive future for his daughter, who he loves dearly," said Schlachet. "And if people find that to be a disconnect from what he's alleged to have done, then the people will just have to deal with it. We just know how he feels about his little girl."
The attorneys say they plan to mount the "best defense we can."
"I know the media wants to jump to conclusions and all the people in the community want to say terrible things about the person who's accused," Schlachet said. "We are not even at the beginning of the process. If this was a marathon race, we're not even at the starting line yet."
They may also seek a change of venue in an effort to make sure Castro gets a fair trial, given that "this happened in Cuyahoga County, (and) it's on the heels of the (Anthony) Sowell case," said Weintraub. Sowell was convicted of murdering 11 women whose bodies were found inside his house in 2009.
In the meantime, Castro is currently being held in isolation under suicide watch.
"He's watched completely," said Schlachet said. "He has a window through his door. He doesn't have a television, doesn't have radio, doesn't have magazines, no access to newspapers. He's completely isolated from society."