Ariel Castro Pleads Not Guilty to 977 Counts

Ariel Castro faces the judge, flanked by his attorneys. (Nick Castele / ideastream)
Ariel Castro faces the judge, flanked by his attorneys. (Nick Castele / ideastream)
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In previous court appearances Castro has kept his head down, chin pressed to his chest. This time, Judge Pamela Barker repeatedly admonished him to look up.

At one point, he replied, "I'm trying."

Castro pleaded not guilty to 977 counts -- including hundreds of counts each of kidnapping and rape, three counts of child endangerment and two counts of aggravated murder. The murder charges stem from allegations Castro abused one of the women until she miscarried a pregnancy.

Castro’s attorneys have said a trial involving the death penalty would be unnecessary. They had the chance last week to argue that privately before a capital review committee.

Joseph Frolik, a spokesman for the prosecution, said after the hearing that prosecutors are still deciding on that point.

“We retain the right as noted in the two aggravated murder counts in Friday’s indictment to come back with a third, superseding indictment that would include a death penalty spec," he said.

Attorney Craig Weintraub told reporters after the hearing that the defense is still hoping to avoid going to trial, and has been talking with prosecutors about bringing the case to a close.

“What we are doing is looking forward to the resolution of this matter to spare the women of having to provide any details of these horrible events to the world at large,” he said.

Weintraub says the defense is still set to go to trial Aug. 5 if a plea deal is not reached first.

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