Ariel Castro is 'not monster' and will plead innocent

Man accused of imprisoning three women in Ohio house is not guilty of kidnap and rape, says lawyer

(Image credit: Getty Images)

ARIEL CASTRO, the man accused of imprisoning three women in his house in Cleveland for a decade, will plead innocent of all the charges laid against him, his lawyers say.

The 52-year-old is charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. But his legal team insist he is "not a monster" and say details of his innocence will emerge as his trial progresses.

Craig Weintraub, one of Castro's defence lawyers, told a Cleveland television station that his client "loves dearly" the child he fathered with 27-year-old Amanda Berry - one of the three alleged kidnap victims. The other women freed from Castro's house at 2207 Seymour Avenue were Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32.

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As well as the charges of kidnapping and rape, prosecutors in Ohio have said they also plan to charge Castro with aggravated murder, a crime that could carry the death penalty. The charge relates to alleged forced miscarriages suffered by Knight. Americans have been appalled by the case and Castro's brothers, Pedro and Onil, told CNN they believe their sibling should "rot in jail".

But another of Castro's lawyers, Jaye Schlachet, said: "He's not a monster and he shouldn't be demonised." Schlachet told NBC's Today programme the former bus driver is "a human being, but what is offensive is that the women and the media want to demonise this man before they know the whole story, and I think it's unfair and not equitable."

Castro made his first court appearance on 9 May without entering a plea. His bail was set at $8 million, so he has remained in custody since then and is under a suicide watch.

"He doesn't have a television, doesn't have radio, doesn't have magazines, no access to newspapers," Schlachet said. "He's completely isolated from society."

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