While in captivity for a decade, one of the three kidnapped Cleveland women–who just this week escaped from captors–conceived several children as a result of rapes but suffered miscarriages due to abuse. Ariel Castro, who was accused of raping and imprisoning the women, has been served charges and now some prosecutors think murder should be also added to the list.
Ohio Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty said aggravated murder charges could be filed related to pregnancies terminated by force. And Ohio law calls for the death penalty for the “most depraved criminals who commit aggravated murder during the course of a kidnapping,” McGinty said.
Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver, is being held on $8 million bail under a suicide watch in jail, where he is charged with rape and kidnapping for allegedly abducting three women and holding them against their will in his home for a decade.
WKYC reported police reports stating that one of the women who was impregnated five times was “starved […] for at least two weeks, then he repeatedly punched her in the stomach until she miscarried.”
Samuel Casey, the general counsel for the Law of Life Project, also thinks murder charges could be brought against Castro for these actions.
“If as reported Ariel Castro starved and then kicked a pregnant Michelle Knight resulting in her miscarrying five children, Castro should be charged with aggravated and felonious assault against Knight and aggravated murder of her children. I trust the grand jury will be investigating all such possible charges,” Casey told LifeNews.
Here’s more from LifeNews on the laws Casey believes could allow for murder charges to be brought against Castro:
Casey says Ohio adopted a state law in 2002 that includes unborn children under murder, manslaughter, and assault statutes in non-abortion cases where they are killed, such as in this case.
Casey also thinks the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which recognizes the “child in utero” as a legal victim if he or she is injured or killed during the commission of any of 68 existing federal crimes of violence, could also come into play.
McGinty said that Castro would be charged for every single act of sexual violence, assault and other crimes committed against the women, suggesting the charges could number in the hundreds, if not thousands.
In court Thursday, authorities laid out more of their case against Castro, saying he lured the women into his car, beat them repeatedly over a decade and used them “in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit,” as prosecutor Brian Murphy put it.
During his brief arraignment, Castro tried to hide his face, tucking his chin inside his collar. He appeared to close his eyes during the hearing and awkwardly signed documents while handcuffed. He did not speak or enter a plea.
Kathleen DeMetz, a public defender assigned to represent him at the hearing, didn’t comment on his guilt or innocence, or object when prosecutors recommended bail be set at $5 million. The judge, instead, ordered Castro be held on $8 million.
Castro has been in custody since Monday, when Amanda Berry, who was 16 when she disappeared, broke out of his run-down house and called 911. Police found the two other women inside. The women, now in their 20s and 30s, vanished separately between 2002 and 2004. At the time, they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.
Berry gave birth to a daughter, now 6, while in captivity. The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported Thursday that this birth occurred in an inflatable swimming pool. A police report obtained by the newspaper said Castro forced another of his alleged captives, Michelle Knight, to deliver the baby and threatened to kill her if the infant did not survive. The baby stopped breathing, and Knight resuscitated the child by mouth-to-mouth, the report said.
Berry was the first to escape Monday, leading the authorities to the other women who were then still captive. But how did Berry do it? According to a police report obtained by WKYC, Castro had forgotten to lock the “big inside door.”
Berry had to get beyond a still locked storm door without breaking it, fearing she was being tested by Castro. It was while she was banging on this door that she was noticed by neighbors, including Charles Ramsey, who has been hailed as a hero for coming to her aid.
Ramsey is the one who kicked in the door, according to WKYC. Watch the report with Ramsey’s account from earlier this week:
Investigators said that the women could recall being outside only twice in the past decade and that they were apparently bound with ropes and chains.
Berry, 27, and the third captive, Gina DeJesus, 22, went home with relatives on Wednesday. Knight, 32, was reported in good condition at a Cleveland hospital.
Associated Press writers Mike Householder and freelance reporter John Coyne in Cleveland; and Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.