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Castro pleads not guilty to hundreds of charges

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Updated: 6/12/2013 6:40 pm
(NBC News) The man accused of kidnapping and holding three women for nearly ten years has pleaded not guilty to hundreds of charges including kidnapping, rape and murder.

Facing over 300 charges, Ariel Castro kept his head bowed for an arraignment that lasted less than 90 seconds.

Castro is charged with kidnapping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight between 2002 and 2004 and holding them prisoner.

Prosecutors say Castro kept the women, along with a 6-year-old girl he fathered with one of them, at his Cleveland home, restraining them at times in chains.

It's the count of aggravated murder for allegedly punching one of the women in the stomach to terminate her pregnancy that has the prosecutor contemplating the death penalty.

"It would be unusual to seek the death penalty for fetal homicide where the mother survived, however, this is a highly unusual case and it's hard to think of a case where the perpetrator has committed more depraved and cruel acts than this one," says legal analyst Lisa Bloom.

Castro's attorneys seemed willing to plead to everything else to avoid death.

"It is our hope that we can continue to work toward a resolution to avoid having an unnecessary trial about aggravated murder and the death penalty," defense attorney Craig Weintraub said after the arraignment.

The women were freed from Castro's house May 6th and haven't spoken publicly since their rescue, but are expected to testify should Castro actually stand trial.

-- Chris Clackum, NBC News, reports

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