US kidnap suspect to plead not guilty: lawyer
The Ohio man accused of holding three young US women captive for around a decade in a house in Cleveland will plead not guilty to charges of rape and kidnapping, one of his lawyers said Wednesday.
"There will be a plea of not guilty," attorney Jaye Schlachet told AFP.
Schlachet would not say on what grounds Ariel Castro would plead not guilty in the case that has shocked America, urging the public to refrain from a rush to judgment of his client.
"He's not a monster and he shouldn't be demonized by the media," the lawyer said.
The 52-year-old, who is being held on an $8 million bond, has been charged with kidnapping and raping three women over around a 10-year period, one of whom bore his child in captivity, according to DNA tests made public.
Prosecutors say they also may charge him with the aggravated murder of the unborn babies at least one of the women allegedly miscarried as a result of beatings, a crime that could carry the death penalty in the midwestern state.
Michelle Knight, 32, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Amanda Berry, 27, were freed on May 6 after a neighbor heard Berry call for help and kicked in the door to Castro's house in a working-class Cleveland neighborhood.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty last week called the home "a torture chamber and private prison," telling reporters: "The horrific brutality and torture that the victims endured for a decade is beyond comprehension."
Assistant county prosecutor Brian Murphy said that during their captivity, the three women suffered "repeated beatings. They were bound and restrained and sexually assaulted, basically never freed to leave this residence."
Cleveland media reported details of a note reportedly found by police in Castro's home in which he describes himself as a "sexual predator" and ponders killing himself and leaving his savings to his victims.
"They are here against their will because they made a mistake of getting in a car with a total stranger," said the note, which was apparently written in 2004 -- the year he allegedly abducted the third victim, DeJesus.
Castro's daughter Angie Gregg told CNN she was "horrified" at the accusations and has disowned her father, while his two brothers -- arrested with him and later cleared of involvement -- said they hope he goes to prison.
Onil Castro, 50, told CNN his brother was a "monster. Hateful. I hope he rots in that jail.
"I don't even want them to take his life like that," he said, referring to a possible death penalty charge in the case. "I want him to suffer in that jail."
"I feel the same way," added brother Pedro Castro, 54.
But Schlachet urged the public to keep an open mind about his client.
"All the evidence will be disclosed at the court proceedings," the attorney said. "I would ask the community not to rush, to consider everything before expressing an opinion."