CLEVELAND (Reuters) – Former Cleveland school bus driver Ariel Castro now faces 977 criminal charges stemming from the abduction and imprisonment of three women, after 648 charges were added on Friday, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said.
The grand jury’s indictment spans from August 2002, when Castro was accused of abducting the first of the women, through May of this year when the women and a 6-year-old girl escaped his Cleveland home.
“Today’s indictment moves us closer to resolution of this gruesome case,” McGinty said in a statement.
Castro, who turned 53 on Wednesday in jail, was indicted in June on 329 charges involving the first 4-1/2 years of captivity for the women, who were freed from his house on May 6 along with the girl. DNA evidence later confirmed the girl was fathered by Castro.
Castro faces two counts of aggravated murder for allegedly forcing one of the women to miscarry. Aggravated murder charges qualify the case for the death penalty, but the prosecutor’s office has not yet decided whether to seek that punishment.
Castro is also charged with 512 counts of kidnapping, 446 counts of rape, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, six counts of felony assault, three counts of child endangerment and one count of possessing tools such as a handgun to use in a crime.
Trial is scheduled to begin on August 5.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Writing by Greg McCune; Editing by Gary Hill and Richard Chang)
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