Cleveland kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro will plead “not guilty” to 329 charges, including kidnapping and rape.
On Friday, Ariel Castro, 52, was indicted on 329 charges. His lawyer told Reuters Saturday that he plans on pleading “not guilty” to those charges at his arraignment next week.
“The indictment is being reviewed and a <<not guilty>> plea will be entered at the scheduled arraignment,” attorney Jaye M. Schlachet said.
The indictment covers the period from August of 2002, when Michelle Knight, the first of the three women discovered in his Cleveland home last month, disappeared, until February of 2007.
Ariel Castro was indicted for one act of aggravated murder – for purposely and with prior calculation and design causing the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy.
He was also indicted on 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, seven counts of gross s***al imposition, three counts of felonious assault and one count of possession of criminal tools.
Ariel Castro will be arraigned on those charges next week and a trial judge will then be assigned.
“Today’s indictments represent a first major step in the criminal justice process,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty.
When the indictment process is complete, the County Prosecutor’s Capital Review Committee will consider whether this case is appropriate to attach the death penalty.
Ariel Castro is accused of kidnapping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight and holding them captive along with 6-year-old Jocelyn, the girl he fathered with Berry.
The suspect has been in the Cuyahoga County Jail since his arrest on May 6. He was charged on May 8 and was jailed on $8 million bond.
Ariel Castro was taken off “suicide prevention” watch on Wednesday after being monitored for the past month.
Jail logs released on Wednesday also show Ariel Castro has been visited multiple times by relatives, but did not list which family members paid a visit to the suspect, News Channel 5 reported.
They also reveal that he watched a lot of television, spent a lot of time running in place and has met with his defense attorneys. He has refused time out of his cell on at least two occasions.
They show his cells being checked for contraband items – and none being found.
Jail logs last month noted that Ariel Castro spends most of his time in his cell resting or asleep, with breaks for pacing, showers and cell cleaning.
Ariel Castro, a former school bus driver, was arrested May 6 after one of the women, Amanda Berry, kicked out part of a locked door of his house and yelled to neighbors to help her and call police.
Police quickly arrived and found Amanda Berry in the street before racing through the house, freeing Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. The women were admitted to a hospital but have been released.
Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus disappeared between 2002 and 2004, when they were in their teens or early 20s, authorities said.