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Man accused of keeping three women in his ‘torture chamber’ home pleads not guilty to 329 counts

Posted Jun 12, 2013 8:39 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Cleveland man accused of kidnapping three women and holding them at his home for about a decade has pleaded not guilty to 329 charges.

Ariel Castro, 52, appeared in court today for his arraignment, report ABC News and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Among the charges against him are two counts of aggravated murder for allegedly causing the unlawful termination of a pregnancy, 139 counts of rape and 177 counts of kidnapping.

Castro didn’t speak during the short proceeding and looked at the floor as a plea was entered on his behalf, ABC says.

Castro is being held on $8 million bond after the three women—Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight—escaped from his home in May along with a child he had fathered. The indictment said Castro sometimes chained the women to a pole in a basement or to a bedroom heater, or imprisoned them inside his van. He is accused of assaulting one woman with a vaccum cleaner cord around her neck after a previous escape attempt.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced the indictment on Friday, according to a prior Plain Dealer story. McGinty called Castro’s home a “torture chamber” and said the indictment process is not yet over. After any additional charges are made, the prosecutor’s office will decide whether to seek the death penalty.

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