Castro’s new legal team says he’ll plead not guilty

Dylan Stableford
The Lookout

Lawyers for Ariel Castro say he'll plead not guilty to charges of kidnapping and raping three women while holding them captive for a decade in his west Cleveland home.

"The initial portrayal by the media has been one of a 'monster' and that's not the impression that I got when I talked to him for three hours," Craig Weintraub, one of Castro's lawyers, told Cleveland's WKYC-TV late Tuesday.

The 52-year-old is being held on an $8 million bond in Cuyahoga County Jail and is under a suicide watch.

"He doesn't have a television, doesn't have radio, doesn't have magazines, no access to newspapers," Jaye Schlachet, another Castro lawyer, said. "He's completely isolated from society."

[Related: Castro brothers break silence on Cleveland case]

Castro is suspected of kidnapping Michelle Knight in 2002, Amanda Berry in 2003 and Gina DeJesus in 2004, and then holding them captive in his west Cleveland home. DNA tests confirm he fathered a daughter with Berry in 2006.

"I can tell you that Mr. Castro is extremely committed to the well-being and positive future for his daughter, who he loves dearly," Schlachet said. "And if people find that to be a disconnect from what he's alleged to have done, then the people will just have to deal with it. We just know how he feels about his little girl."

Castro's attorneys say that how he came into contact with the women will be revealed "as the case progresses." And they say they may seek a change of venue to get a fair trial.

"I know the media wants to jump to conclusions, and all the people in the community want to say terrible things about the person who's accused," Schlachet added. "We are not even at the beginning of the process. If this was a marathon race, we're not even at the starting line yet."