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Death penalty may be sought in kidnap case

CLEVELAND -- A prosecutor said yesterday he may seek the death penalty against Ariel Castro, saying the man accused of raping and imprisoning three women in his home forced them to suffer miscarriages.

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, 52, a former school bus driver, is being held on $8 million bail under a suicide watch. He is charged with rape and kidnapping for allegedly abducting three women and holding them captive in his home for a decade.

McGinty said Castro would be charged for every act of sexual violence, assault and other crimes against the women, suggesting the charges could number in the hundreds, if not thousands.

In court, 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.

Castro 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 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 vanished separately between 2002 and 2004.

Castro had lured each of them into his vehicle, according to court documents filed yesterday. Investigators said the women could recall being outside only twice in the past decade and were apparently bound with ropes and chains. Berry gave birth to a daughter, now 6, while in captivity.

The Plain Dealer reported yesterday that Berry gave birth in an inflatable swimming pool. A police report 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 her by mouth-to-mouth, the report said.

Berry, 27, and the third captive, Gina DeJesus, 22, went home with relatives on Wednesday. Knight, 32, was in good condition at a Cleveland hospital.

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