Ariel Castro will see his kidnapping trial move forward after a judge declared him competent to stand trial.
A Cuyahoga County judge said Wednesday that the man accused of holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for more than a decade is mentally able to understand the charges against him. The Castro kidnapping trial will now move forward with a tentative start date of August 5.
The 52-year-old Castro has been charged with 329 counts, including multiple kidnapping and rape charges. In a one-minute arraignment in June, Casto sat silently as his attorney entered a plea of not guilty. Wearing prison oranges, Castro looked at the floor during the proceedings.
He is now being held in jail on $8 million bond.
Authorities have accused Castro of kidnapping the women between 2002 and 2004, when they were between the ages of 14 and 20. His indictment also includes two counts of aggravated murder for unlawfully terminating one of the women’s pregnancies.
Victim Michelle Knight said she became pregnant five times, but Castro forced her to miscarry by starving her and repeatedly punching her in the stomach.
Castro also faces kidnapping charges for restraining a 6-year-old girl he fathered with one of the victims.
The women were reportedly chained to a pole in Castro’s basement, to the heating unit in Castro’s bedroom, and even shackled inside of a van. When one of them tried to escape, Castro allegedly strangled her with a vacuum cord to teach the others a lesson.
On May 6, one of the women was finally able to break free, and with the help of a neighbor called 911.
She recounted her story to the 911 dispatcher: “Help me. I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years, and I’m, I’m here, I’m free now.”