Cleveland kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro pleaded not guilty to a 977-count indictment in court this morning. Castro previously faced a 329 counts for allegedly kidnapping Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus and holding all three captive in his Seymour Avenue home for nearly ten years. He was hit with and additional 648 counts last Friday for charges that span the full amount of time he held the women hostage.
Prior to Castro entering his plea, Judge Pamela Barker ordered him to look up and keep his eyes open to make sure he understood the charges he was facing. "I'm trying," Castro replied after following Barker's instructions, then dropping his head again.
Castro's new indictment includes 512 counts of of kidnapping, 446 counts of rape, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, six counts of assault, three counts of child endangerment, two counts of aggravated murder and a count of possessing criminal tools. The two counts of aggravated murder could be punishable by the death penalty. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty might seek the death penalty, but neither indictment has specifics regarding it.
Castro attorney Craig Weintraub says that a plea deal can only be reached if McGinty does not seek the death penalty.
[via Cleveland Plain Dealer]