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Trial date set in Cleveland kidnappings

Ariel Castro’s trial is to begin on Aug. 4.

Ariel Castro’s trial is to begin on Aug. 4.

CLEVELAND — Ariel Castro, accused of kidnapping three women and holding them in his home and raping them over a decade, was given a late summer trial date Wednesday during a brief court hearing.

Judge Michael Russo is hoping to begin the trial by Aug. 4, meeting a 90-day speedy trial requirement. Castro, 52, was arrested May 6, and the speedy trial requirement could be waived to allow more preparation time.

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As in other court appearances, Castro had his wrists and ankles shackled and kept his chin to his chest.

The judge mentioned the possibility of a plea deal raised last week by the defense and asked that any deal be submitted by attorneys in writing.

Prosecutor Tim McGinty left without commenting.

Outside court, Castro attorney Craig Weintraub said the defense was focused on whether the prosecution had the evidence to get an aggravated murder conviction for an allegedly forced miscarriage. The prosecutor has not said if he will pursue the death penalty.

Weintraub hinted last week that a plea agreement to avoid a trial was possible if the death penalty was taken off the table.

“That’s the most important aspect of the case to us,” he said.

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