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Death Sentence For Ariel Castro? Unlikely, Says Law Expert

Friday, May 10, 2013 at 5:59 PM

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Prosecutors say they’ll seek the death penalty for Ariel Castro. But as ideastream’s Brian Bull reports, one expert in capital punishment says putting Castro on death row will be tough.

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Ariel Castro, accused of multiple counts of kidnapping and rape (Facebook profile photo) Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty says he'll look into additional charges that may justify death for Castro (pic by Brian Bull) Michael Benza is a Senior Lecturer of Law at Case Western Reserve University (pic by Brian Bull)

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. However…

“I’m not aware of any case in Ohio where the only homicide victim was the unborn child.”

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.

“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.”

Benza says while not impossible, it will be very difficult for prosecutors to argue for death under existing Ohio statutes in the Castro case. 

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