News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Meaden & Moore

The Holden Arboretum


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Crime and Courts


There could be a Castro plea deal, but what if there is a trial?
A look at legal options beyond a plea deal, and what a trial could mean for the women believed held captive for a decade
by WKSU's KEVIN NIEDERMIER


Reporter
Kevin Niedermier
 
Ariel Castro may be considering a plea deal to avoid a trial. Prosecutors are weighing factors including what a trial would do to the three women he's accused of abducting and imprisoning.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office will not comment on reports it has offered a plea deal to alleged kidnapper Ariel Castro -- saying only that it is continuing to work with Castro’s defense team.

The defense has said Castro will plead guilty to some of the nearly 1,000 rape, kidnapping and aggravated murder charges if prosecutors do not call for the death penalty. WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier looks at some potential legal scenarios if a deal doesn't come through, and at what going to court could mean for the three women Castro is accused of holding captive for a decade.

 

Click to listen

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (6:34)


Case Western Reserve University forensic psychiatry professor Phillip Resnick has consulted in the high-profile cases of Jeffery Dahmer, Timothy McVey, and the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski among others. Recently, he conducted Ariel Castro’s court-ordered evaluation, finding the defendant competent to stand trial.

Difficult but not devastating
If the case goes to trial, he says Castro’s alleged victims --Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight --would each be affected differently. But, those impacts would not be quite as devastating as some might think.  

“Would it likely cause irreparable damage? Probably not. Would it be an upsetting chapter in their lives that they would like to avoid? Yes.
"It would require reliving, which would be upsetting. And I think, in a case like this in particular, there would be embarrassment separate from simply the trauma of retelling; ... various sexual acts they may have been forced to perform would be embarrassing to reveal.”  

Their day in court
Though the Castro case is highly unusual, Resnick says some studies show many rape victims want to testify against their attackers.

“That’s the more typical rape trial, where, if the woman fails to testify, the rapist may not come to justice. A separate issue in this case would be if Mr. Castro would be put away for life, the women would not have to fear him. This could be accomplished with a plea deal without their testimony.”

SPEEDY TRIAL LAW
Both the Ohio and U.S. constitutions require that people charged with crimes be brought to trial quickly. Ohio law sets time limits and, usually, only defendants can waive those limits. Often they’ll do so to allow their attorneys more time to prepare their case.

Felony cases must be tried within 270 days. But the law also says each day someone is kept in jail awaiting trial counts as three days. Ariel Castro was arrested shortly after Amanda Berry broke free of his west-side Cleveland home on May 6 and police found Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus inside.

So his trial had to be set to begin Aug. 5.

Balancing victims and justice
Steve Dever is a former Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutor. Interviewed before reports of a possible plea deal, he said current prosecutor Timothy McGinty has handled the highly unusual Castro case well, and the nearly 1,000 charges are reasonable.

“It’s going to require a full accounting from the prosecutor to the court, whether that’s the judge or a jury as far as the significance of these crimes and how they took place during that whole decade. ... They (the women) were held captive and traumatized and assaulted and violated and abused. It’s a horrible set of facts and anyone who has to sit through and listen to that type of testimony is going to hear very troubling and disturbing facts."

Dever says he can't speak for the prosecutor's office, but deciding whether to push for a trial means taking a lot of things into consideration.

"The quality of the evidence is significant. It’s been gathered in a very professional way, and my observation from watching as a member of the general public is that the investigation has been very through.
"I think you have to take the wishes of the victims into consideration as to whether or not it’s beneficial for them to come to court and tell a roomful of strangers all of these horrible details about what happened to them. And, whether or not that is beneficial for the community.”
The women’s attorneys say they do not want to testify.

An alternative for the community to get answers
Dever estimates a trial would take six to eight weeks. If a plea deal isn’t reached before August 5, he says there is another option to avoid a full trial.
If Castro pleads guilty to several charges, excluding any with death penalty specifications, the two sides could go before the judge for a sentencing hearing. Dever says that would take days instead of weeks. And it would provide a public accounting of the many crimes without the women being present.

“That can allow the prosecutor to offer into evidence, the details of the events that are part of the indictment. It would allow the defense to present any type of mitigation they think would be appropriate. And it would allow the victims to avoid making public statements. Their statements can be read into the public record ... on their behalf.”

A sentencing hearing does not require prosecutors to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so Dever says the two sides could concentrate on forging an appropriate sentence.                                                                                       

Trial or not, Castro will never be free
Ian Friedman is a Cleveland defense attorney who most recently represented Chardon school shooter T.J. Lane. He doubts the case will be decided through a sentencing hearing.

“If there’s going to be a deal in this case, one of the conditions is going to be life without parole, period. So I don’t see both sides arguing unless death is on the table and they have to go to trial. I do not see the prosecution offering a plea taking death off the table and then allowing the defense to argue for something less than life without parole.”  

Both Friedman and Dever say if Castro does admit his guilt, no judge would sentence him to anything less that life without parole. Friedman says the defense attorneys are simply fighting to keep Castro from being executed.
None of the 977 charges now includes death penalty specifications. But prosecutors have repeatedly held that out as a possibility, linked to allegations Castro forced one of the women to miscarry.

Friedman expects the case to be decided with a plea deal. If the case does go to trial on Aug. 5, officials from the Ohio Public Defenders office say it would probably be the biggest case ever to reach trial within Ohio's 90-day speedy trial law.      

Victim's resilience
At age 14, Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City home and held captive for nine months before being rescued. Forensic psychiatrist Phillip Resnick compiled a profile of her kidnapper that helped convicted him.

Though Smart was held only about one-tenth of the time of Castro’s alleged victims, Resnick believes, trial or no trial, there’s hope for the Cleveland women.

“People like Smart and others who have gone through sustained periods have shown substantial resilience, and I would not be pessimistic about these women living full lives.”

The women have remained in seclusion and asked that the public respect their privacy as they heal. Their only public appearance has been in video in which they thanked everyone for their help and concern.

 

 

(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Farm-to-School: Cafeteria lunch is fresh and local at Tallmadge High School
Great job Tallmadge City Schools! So glad to have a progressive business manager and superintendant!

World premiere at Cleveland Institute of Music is fanfare for a new theme
J'ai une grande admiration pour Daniil Trifonov que j'ai vu en concert deux fois à Paris je ne lui trouve pas d'égal c'est un ange tombe du ciel

Kent's journalism school faculty protest presidential search secrecy
There really was too much secrecy behind the selection process. Hopefully the letter by the faculty members will convince the board to provide more information ...

Belgian cargo ship creates new export route between Antwerp and NEO
The vessel is registered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Not in Belgium ;)

Exploradio: Tracking Ohio's champion trees
Absolutely loved this story. We lost 3 of our larger ash trees last year due to EAB. Big, beautiful trees are something to be treasured, and many times they tru...

Ohio's rules on fracking and earthquakes are a first
I'm right in the middle of the issue. Like oil independence, but hope there is pre- and current-drilling assurance re dangers from pollution, earthquakes and th...

Bridgestone exec indictments are latest step in a billion-dollar price-fixing case
Why is O.P.E.C Not investigated and charges brought against it and it's member companies? It sounds exactly the same...

Ohio's new drilling rules rely on known earthquake faults
requiring drillers to place seismic monitors when they drill within 3 miles of known fault lines. This comment really upsets me!! What good does an instrument t...

Kasich's gubernatorial ad focuses on his blue-collar roots
John Kasich is the biggest con-man in America. He will say one thing and then do the opposite. He is terribly successful at fooling the public and he is worki...

Cab drivers who refuse to drive Gay Games taxis will be replaced
the irony is that most americans distrust or hate muslims much more than they hate gays!! silly ignorant bigots-GO HOME!!!

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University