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Cleveland Kidnaps Suspect Will Plead Not Guilty, Lawyer Says

Saying that their client is not a "monster," attorneys for Ariel Castro have told Cleveland's WKYC-TV that the man accused of kidnapping three young women, holding them captive and repeatedly raping them over the course of about a decade will plead not guilty to all charges if he is indicted by a grand jury.

"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," attorney Craig Weintraub told WKYC. The station adds that:

"When asked how the three women ended up in Castro's home, Weintraub said: 'That fact will be disclosed as the case progresses. I am aware of how he came into contact with them.' "

Castro, 52, was arrested May 6 after Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Berry's 6-year-old daughter (fathered by Castro) were found in his home. The women had been missing for 9 to 11 years.

Meanwhile, Cleveland police have posted a firsthand account from one of the officers who responded to Castro's home about what they found when they got there. Berry had already been able to escape the home, with the help of neighbors. Patrol Officer Anthony Espada says that after he and his partner entered the house:

"You hear this scuffling — you know something's going on in this room. I'm looking that way just waiting to see what's going to happen and it was Michelle. She kinda popped out into the doorway and paused there for a second. I mean, within moments she came charging at me. She jumped onto me. ... She's like, 'You saved us! You saved us!' And I'm holding onto her so tight.

"And then within a few seconds I see another girl come out of the bedroom. I just look at her. I ... you can immediately tell who it is ... and I asked her, 'What's your name?' She said, 'My name is Georgina DeJesus.' Very overwhelming. I mean it took everything to hold myself together. You know, I have Michelle in my arms. ... And then you got Gina coming out. It was like one bombshell after another. That's when I broadcasted, '2Adam23, we found them! We found them!' "

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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