Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says no DNA evidence links the man accused of imprisoning three women in a Cleveland house for a decade to other crimes through a national database.
DeWine also says no matches have been found for Ariel Castro's brothers, Pedro and Onil, in similar database checks. Cleveland police arrested the brothers after Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were freed last week. The brothers were not charged and they've been released. The brothers are distancing themselves from Ariel Castro and say they had no clue that he was keeping the women in his home.
In the wake of the case, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald says the county plans to review how missing persons data is handled. He points to concerns over Michelle Knight’s case. She was reported missing a day after she disappeared in 2002, but a year later her entry was removed from the FBI’s national database. Police couldn’t find anyone to confirm whether or not she was still missing. Fitzgerald has followed the case, and while he wouldn’t discuss possible charges, he says the penalty against Castro should be severe.
So far, Castro is charged with kidnapping and rape. He is being held on 8 million dollars bond and has been placed on suicide watch. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty says he’ll look into whether the crimes warrant the death penalty. An expert on capital punishment says McGinty will have a tough time putting Castro on death row. Brian Bull of member station WCPN in Cleveland reports.
Castro stands accused of many terrible acts against three young women held captive in his West Side home.
One that prosecutors are eyeing is the termination of several pregnancies by brute force.
They suggest that could be defined as aggravated murder in the course of a kidnapping, and therefore a capital offense.
MBenza01: “I’m not aware of any case in Ohio where the only homicide victim was the unborn child.” (:07)
Michael Benza is a Senior Lecturer of Law at Case Western Reserve University, who specializes in death penalty law. He says usually in fetal homicide cases, both the unborn child – and the mother – are killed. With Castro, it could set a new precedent…IF prosecutors successfully make their case.
MBenza02: “The thing is with capital murder, you need not just an aggravated murder but you need special circumstances that are associated with the murder itself. Ohio though, doesn’t have sort of a “it’s a really bad crime” type of, aggravating circumstance…”. (:15)
Benza says while not impossible, it will be very difficult for prosecutors to argue for death under existing Ohio statutes in the Castro case.
For Ohio Public Radio, I’m Brian Bull, in Cleveland.