Cleveland kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro could face aggravated murder charges in the termination of his captives’ pregnancies, according to a prosecutor on the case.
Castro is already charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape in relation to the abductions of Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus, and Amanda Berry. Berry had a child during her captivity.
In court filings released on Thursday, Michelle Knight told investigators that she was pregnant at least five times during her nine year captivity. Knight explained that each time that happened, Castro “starved her for at least two weeks, then he repeatedly punched her in the stomach until she miscarried.”
Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, stated on Thursday that a person can be charged with aggravated murder in Ohio if they kill an unborn child. Such a conviction could lead to the death penalty.
It is not known whether Michelle Knight was the only victim to miscarry, or if Berry and DeJesus also became pregnant, only to lose their unborn children. Amanda Berry was the only one to give birth while in captivity. She had a daughter who, according to the report, was delivered by Knight with the understanding that Knight would die if the baby died. McGinty told reporters on Thursday:
“The child kidnapper operated a torture chamber and private prison in the heart of the city. The horrific brutality and torture that the victims endured for a decade is beyond comprehension.”
Ariel Castro was arraigned on Thursday in a northern Ohio court on the kidnapping and rape charges. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Brian Murphy stated during the hearing, “The charges against Mr. Castro are based on premeditated, deliberate and depraved decisions to snatch three young ladies from Cleveland’s West Side streets to be used in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit.”
McGinty added that his office intends to seek charges against Ariel Castro not only for the sexual acts the victims endured during their time in captivity, but also “each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies.”
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