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Cleveland kidnap suspect competent for trial

CLEVELAND — A man charged with holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for about a decade and raping them is competent to stand trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Russo said the results of an examination of Ariel Castro last week showed that he is mentally able to understand the charges and assist lawyers in his defense.

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Also Wednesday, prosecutor Saleh Awadallah said a meeting is planned July 11 to discuss the possibility of seeking the death penalty for the 52-year-old Castro, who faces aggravated murder charges stemming from allegations that he caused the deliberate termination of one of the women’s pregnancies.

Awadallah invited Castro’s lawyer, Craig Weintraub, to submit evidence to him before the meeting to support an argument against the death penalty in the upcoming discussions.

Castro’s attorneys have previously hinted that he might plead guilty if capital punishment was taken off the table.

Awadallah said that prosecutors would be going back to the county grand jury to seek more charges against Castro, but that he did not know when that would happen.

At the end of the hearing, Castro, his bearded chin tucked to his chest for most of time, asked for permission to visit with the child he fathered with one of the women he is accused of kidnapping and raping. The judge denied the request.

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