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Prosecutor will seek murder charges for terminated pregnancies in kidnap case

Cuyahoga County, Ohio prosecutor Timothy McGinty says that he intends to seek aggravated murder charges against accused Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro, and will evaluate whether to seek the death penalty against the former school bus driver.

An Ohio prosecutor vowed Thursday to pursue murder charges against the Cleveland kidnapping suspect for terminating the pregnancies of the women he is accused of holding captive for a decade.

The prosecutor, Timothy McGinty of Cuyahoga County, also said that he would consider seeking the death penalty.


Meanwhile, new details about a confession the suspect, Ariel Castro, made to police were revealed, including that he admitted that he was a sex addict and “cold blooded,” reported WKYC, Cleveland's NBC affiliate. Also, in a suicide note he wrote in 2004 Castro blamed the girls for their abductions.

Castro is already charged with four counts of kidnapping — three for the women he is accused of abducting and one for a baby that one of the women bore in captivity.

McGinty said he would seek charges for each act of sexual violence, rape, kidnapping, assault and “each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies that the offender perpetuated against the hostages during this decade-long ordeal.”

Cleveland Department Of Public Safety

Ariel Castro, accused of holding three Cleveland women captive in his home for a decade.

One of the three women, Michelle Knight, has told investigators that Castro impregnated her at least five times, and that he starved her and punched her repeatedly in the stomach to force her to miscarry, according to a Cleveland police report.

McGinty specifically cited a provision of Ohio law that defines it as aggravated murder when someone causes, “with prior calculation and design,” the unlawful termination of another person’s pregnancy.

“This child kidnapper operated a torture chamber and private prison in the heart of our city,” McGinty said. “The horrific brutality and torture that the victims endured for a decade is beyond comprehension.”

$8 million bond
Earlier in the day, a judge ordered Castro held on $8 million bond — a figure that a court-appointed lawyer said he clearly could not meet.

Judge Lauren C. Moore of Cleveland city court also ordered him to have “absolutely no contact” with the victims or their families.

In addition to the four standing counts of kidnapping, Castro is charged with three counts of rape. Those charges were filed before Cleveland city prosecutors turned the case over to a Cuyahoga County grand jury.

The women — Knight, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry — were freed Monday night, when Berry broke part of a storm door and screamed for help, according to the police report. A neighbor, Chuck Ramsey, came to her aid and called 911.

Castro lured each of the women between 2002 and 2004 by offering them rides, the report said. It said he chained each of them in the basement before allowing them to live on the second floor of his house.

The police report also said that Knight was forced to deliver Berry’s baby in a kiddie pool six years ago, and that Castro threatened to kill Knight if the baby died. The child survived.

Investigators said Thursday that they had found a suicide note that Castro wrote in 2004, in which he said that he was abused as a child.

In the note, Castro mentioned his sex addiction and blamed the girls for their abductions, writing that they were the ones who got into his car in the first place, sources told WKYC.

Castro wrote that he wanted to give his money and possessions to the women if he was caught, the sources said.

Suspect seemed 'cocky'
During an interrogation with police, WKYC reported, Castro appeared  “cocky” and said he was addicted to sex and could not control his impulses. He called himself "cold blooded" and led police with exacting detail through the days that he abducted Knight, Berry and DeJesus, from how he met them to what they were wearing that day, sources told the station.

None of the abductions seemed planned, the WKYC sources said. Rather, they appeared to be crimes of opportunity.

 

Emmanuel Dunand / AFP - Getty Images

A daring escape and a dramatic 911 call led to the rescue of three women who allegedly had been held captive for years inside a home in Cleveland, Ohio.

At his arraignment, Castro wore what appeared to be a dark blue prison jumpsuit and mostly looked at the floor. He did not enter a plea or address the judge.

“Today the situation’s turned, Your Honor. Mr. Castro stands before you a captive, in captivity, a prisoner,” city prosecutor Brian Murphy said. “The women are free to resume their lives.”

The court-appointed lawyer, Kathleen DeMetz, said that Castro would be moved to a county jail. Getting out would require putting up $800,000 cash, she said, and “he clearly doesn’t have that.”

DeMetz said that she expected he would be placed under “extreme protective custody” and perhaps put on suicide watch.

Castro’s mother, Lilian Rodriguez, said outside her home in Cleveland that her son is sick and “has committed something serious.”

Mother: 'Forgive me'
“I ask for forgiveness from those mothers, that the girls will forgive me,” she told Telemundo in Spanish.

Two of Castro’s brothers, Pedro and Onil, were also arrested Monday night, but authorities later said they had no evidence that the two brothers had anything to do with the kidnappings.

The brothers appeared in court Thursday, but on misdemeanor charges unrelated to the abductions. Cleveland police said later in the day that they had been released.

Thursday night, police spoke to some 100 community members gathered in a hall at Immanuel Lutheran Church, just half a block from Castro’s home.

Officers spoke of the “miracle” of the women’s safe recovery and about searches for them when they went missing.

“I can tell you personally that I busted my butt to find those girls,” said Keith Sulzer, Cleveland police district commander. "Me and my guys searched every vacant lot, every vacant building, everywhere that we could legally go in and search."

After the meeting, the group went outside, held candles and said a prayer near the police barricade. 

Matthew DeLuca, Craig Melvin and Jeff Black of NBC News contributed to this report.

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