In the trial of Ariel Castro, a plea deal could remove the death penalty as a possible punishment. The 53-year-old Cleveland, Ohio, man is accused of kidnapping, torturing, and imprisoning, three women for 10 years.
The three women were discovered inside Castro's home on May 6, by a neighbor. Amanda Berry, age 27, Gina DeJesus, age 23, and Michelle Knight, age 32, were removed from the home and taken to safety.
The women told authorities that they were starved, beaten, and repeatedly raped.
As reported by Reuters, Castro was arrested and charged with 512 counts of kidnapping, 446 counts of rape, and 19 other various crimes. Castro is also charged with aggravated murder, which is punishable by death. Castro plead not guilty to all charges.
The murder charge stems from allegations that Castro purposely caused one of the women to miscarry. Castro reportedly starved and beat the pregnant woman, triggering at least one miscarriage.
If Ariel Castro makes a plea deal, he may avoid the death penalty on the murder charge. As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the trial is set to begin in less than two weeks. However, at today's hearing, the Judge specifically mentioned a plea deal.
Judge Michael Russo addressed the prosecution and defense at the hearing:
"My understanding is that the parties have discussed possible pleas and that you're working to see if that would be an effective resolution, is that correct?"
Both parties replies "yes," collected their belongings, and left the courthouse.
Ariel Castro's trial is scheduled to begin on August 5.
A plea agreement would likely cause a great deal of controversy. However, it may be beneficial for everyone involved.
A mutual agreement between the prosecution and defense would prevent the three victims from appearing on the witness stand. It would also save the state time and money.
Legal expert Michael Benza explains that the forensic evidence is an additional concern. There were 99 pieces of evidence tested for DNA. If the testing is not complete in time for the trial, Benza states that "the case could be overturned."
For Ariel Castro, a plea deal could mean the difference between life and death. The defense team will likely refuse any agreement that includes the death penalty.
[Image via Flickr]