Ohio prosecutors announced late Thursday they might charge Ariel Castro with murder and seek the death penalty after one of his captives claimed he impregnated her five times and forced her to miscarry.
Castro already faces rape and kidnapping charges after three women he held captive for almost a decade escaped from his downtown Cleveland home on Monday. Michelle Knight, 32, told investigators Castro starved her for up to two weeks and hit her in the stomach to make her miscarry five babies.
“Capital punishment must be reserved for those crimes that are truly the worst examples of human conduct,” said Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty. “The reality is we still have brutal criminals in our midst who have no respect for the rule of law or human life.”
Another captive, Amanda Berry, gave birth to a daughter, now 6 years old, while she was imprisoned. Ohio’s attorney general announced today that Castro is the child’s father. According to a police report, Castro forced Berry to give birth in a kiddie pool and made Knight help, threatening to kill her if the child didn’t survive. At one point, the baby stopped breathing and Knight gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive her.
Berry, 27, and the third captive, Gina DeJesus, 22, went home with family members on Wednesday. Knight remains in a Cleveland hospital, where officials say she is in good condition.
All three women claim Castro abducted them after offering to give them a ride home. He kept them chained in his basement at first but eventually allowed them to live on the home’s second floor. Police previously said he kept the women tied up much of the time.
Berry escaped after discovering Castro had left a door unlocked, leaving only the bolted outer door to get through. She called to neighbors sitting on their front porches for help.
According to National Right to Life, Ohio is one of 36 states with laws that recognize the intentional killing of an unborn child as homicide. Under Ohio law, anyone who intentionally kills an unborn child at any stage of pre-natal development can be charged with aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, aggravated vehicular homicide, and vehicular homicide, depending on the circumstances.