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    Ariel Castro reportedly mulling plea deal

    8:25 PM, Jul 25, 2013   |    comments
    Ariel Castro (Photo: CBS News)
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    CLEVELAND (USAToday.com) - A former school bus driver accused of holding three women captive for more than a decade is considering a plea deal, WKYC-TV reported Thursday.

    Accused kidnapper Ariel Castro, 52, is facing 977 charges including rape, kidnapping and sexual abuse for actions that began Aug. 22, 2002, when Michelle Knight, now 32, was snatched off the street. The missing women and a 6-year-old girl believed to be fathered by Castro were rescued May 6.

    Castro is said to be considering the deal now, which could mean that he would not face the death penalty.

    Joseph Frolik, spokesman for Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty, confirmed to USA TODAY that there were negotiations toward a plea deal but said "beyond that we've got nothing to add.''

    Castro's lawyer Craig Weintraub did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    If Castro agrees to a plea deal, he is expected to appear in court Friday to accept the proposal formally. Frolik confirmed a hearing was set for Friday but was unable to say if any announcement on an agreement was planned for then.

    Previously, Castro's lawyer has said that some of the charges against his client could not be disputed and that he hoped to avoid a trial.

    Amanda Berry, missing since April 21, 2003, and her child escaped Castro's Cleveland house May 6 and led police to Knight and Gina DeJesus, missing since April 2, 2004.

    Also Thursday, the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, a county agency dedicated to eliminating blighted properties is looking into the future of the home where Castro is accused of committing his crimes.

    The city now controls Castro's property at 2207 Seymour Ave. on Cleveland's West Side but does not own any of the neighboring vacant properties, a demolition inspector said. The Land Bank wants to acquire as much space as possible to benefit the community, which could mean future green space or a neighborhood park.

    The agency is expected to raze Castro's house but has no timeframe for the demolition.

    The house where Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell strangled 11 women was demolished in 2011 following his conviction.

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