Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty told reporters this afternoon that his office will consider seeking the death penalty for Ariel Castro. The announcement is the first time that Ohio officials have suggested that the death penalty is on the table for the 52-year-old, and makes it clear that the initial seven felony charges filed against Castro were only the prosecution's opening move in the case.
"Capital punishment must be reserved for those crimes that are truly the worst examples of human conduct," McGinty told reporters at an afternoon press conference in Cleveland. "The reality is we still have brutal criminals in our midst who have no respect for the rule of law or human life. The law of Ohio calls for the death penalty for those most depraved criminals who commit aggravated murder during the course of a kidnapping."
By referencing possible "aggravated murder" charges, McGinty was most likely alluding to allegations that at least one of the missing women suffered multiple miscarriages at the hands of Castro. Under Ohio law, murder victims can include an "unborn member of the species Homo sapiens, who is or was carried in the womb of another."
While Castro has so far only been charged with seven felonies—three counts of rape; four counts of kidnapping—McGinty said that he'll look to add as many additional charges that can be supported by the evidence. He suggested that the total number could ultimately reach the hundreds, if not thousands. It's the possible aggravated murder charges, however, that would likely carry the harshest penalty.
Read more in Slate about the Cleveland kidnapping case, and follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.
This post has been updated with additional information.