Trial date set for Ariel Castro; more charges possible

In this handout from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office, Ariel Castro, 52, is seen in a booking photo May 9 in Cleveland.

Story highlights

  • Ariel Castro keeps his head down, eyes closed through most of hearing
  • Judge sets tentative trial date for August 4; next hearing for June 26
  • Prosecutor: More evidence headed to grand jury, more indictments possible
  • Castro faces 329 counts, including aggravated murder, rape and kidnapping

The Cleveland man accused of keeping three women captive in his home for a decade learned Wednesday the prosecution is seeking more indictments in the case.

Shackled and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, Ariel Castro, 52, kept his head down for the eight-minute hearing, often closing his eyes and speaking only to answer "yes" or "no" to the judge's questions.

Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Russo set the next pretrial hearing for June 26 and told the prosecution and defense that any plea deal would need to be in writing. The defense has said in the past that it would be open to a plea deal if the death penalty was taken off the table.

Castro's lawyers have also filed a speedy-trial motion, which would mean the case would have to begin by the date listed, August 4. However, that deadline could change if Castro's attorneys change course and ask for more time to prepare for the case.

Prosecutor Timothy McGinty told Russo there is a possibility of more charges.

"We are presenting additional evidence to the grand jury next week and the week after. We expect we are going to request further indictments to cover the additional period," he said.

Castro faces 329 counts, including one count of aggravated murder for allegedly causing the unlawful termination of a pregnancy.

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    This week, Castro entered a not guilty plea to all charges, including 139 counts of rape and 177 counts of kidnapping Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Georgina "Gina" DeJesus. Castro fathered a daughter with Berry, according to authorities.

    Police have alleged Knight was impregnated by Castro five times, but he would punch her in the stomach, resulting in miscarriages and termination of all the pregnancies.

    Authorities said last week they are conducting DNA tests on evidence to determine if additional victims were inside Castro's Cleveland home, and the state attorney general's office says the crime lab is reviewing additional evidence in the case.

    Since the case began, investigators have been looking for evidence of aborted fetuses and evidence of any other girls or women who may have been kidnapped or held captive in the house.