Cleveland — A judge says a Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive in his home for about a decade has a plea deal. He had been charged in a 977-count indictment that could lead to the death penalty.
Castro, 53, is scheduled for trial Aug. 5 on allegations that include repeatedly restraining the women and punching and starving one woman until she had a miscarriage.
The women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each said they had accepted a ride from Castro.
They escaped Castro's house May 6 when one kicked out part of a door and called to neighbors for help. Castro was arrested within hours and has remained behind bars.
Castro is accused of repeatedly restraining the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van.
His indictment charges him with 512 counts of kidnapping, 446 counts of rape, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, six counts of felonious assault, three counts of child endangerment and one count of possessing criminal tools. His 576-page indictment includes two counts of aggravated murder for allegedly punching and starving one of the women until she miscarried.
Castro, a former school bus driver, has been jailed since his arrest on May 6 shortly after the women escaped to freedom.
Plea deal discussions are hinging on whether prosecutors will rule out the death penalty as the defense has demanded.
Most recent reports say Ariel Castro accepted a plea agreement to avoid trial and the death penalty. In exchange, the 53-year-old Castro would be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years.
"Do you understand you will never be released from prison?" the judge asked him at the hearing. "Yes," Castro replied.