CLEVELAND (AP) — A man accused of kidnapping three women and holding them in his home and raping them over a decade was given a late summer trial date Wednesday.
Ariel Castro, 52, appeared in court for a brief hearing as Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Russo said he was aiming to begin the trial by Aug. 4, meeting a 90-day speedy trial requirement. Castro was arrested May 6, and the speedy trial requirement could be waived to allow more preparation time.
Castro faces another pretrial hearing June 26.
As in previous court appearances, Castro had his wrists and ankles shackled and kept his chin tucked in his chest. He answered “yes” and “no” to the judge’s questions about his understanding of the proceedings.
The judge mentioned the possibility of a plea deal raised last week by the defense and asked that any deal that emerges be submitted by attorneys in writing.
Prosecutor Tim McGinty left court without commenting.
Outside court, Castro attorney Craig Weintraub said the defense was focused on whether the prosecution had enough evidence to get an aggravated murder conviction for an allegedly forced miscarriage involving one of the women. The prosecutor hasn’t said whether he would pursue the death penalty.
Weintraub hinted last week that a plea agreement to avoid a trial was possible if the death penalty was taken off the table.
“That’s the most important aspect of the case to us and obviously whether or not the death penalty would be applicable,” he said. “It’s been shifted to the prosecutor’s office as to whether or not they want to pursue this. But as of right now, we haven’t received any of the evidence that would support an aggravated murder conviction.”
McGinty told the judge that his office was working to provide the defense with required access to the evidence on a timely basis.