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Ariel Castro not allowed to see Amanda Berry's child

10:46 PM, Jul 3, 2013   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: Slideshow | Ariel Castro court appearances

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CLEVELAND -- A judge has denied Ariel Castro's request to be allowed to see Amanda Berry's 6-year-old daughter while he is in jail awaiting trial on 329 counts of kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder.

The child was fathered by Castro and born to Berry during the time that prosecutors say she was held captive in Castro's Seymour Avenue home.

There is a no-contact order in effect between Castro and the child and Judge Michael Russo flatly refused to reconsider that order when Castro made the visitation request during this morning's pre-trial hearing.

"I just don't think that would be appropriate," said Judge Russo.

The court is considering whether Castro's other adult children can be allowed to visit him in jail.

Currently, Castro has privileges call only his mother and sister. The calls will be monitored by an officer.

During the pre-trial hearing Wednesday morning, it was also determined that, based on a court-ordered evaluation, that Castro is mentally competent to stand trial and aid his lawyers in his legal defense.

The report has been sealed.

As in his previous court appearances, Castro, handcuffed and shackled, kept his head down and his eyes averted during the proceeding. 

Castro has pleaded not guilty to a 329-count indictment. More charges are likely to follow. The current indictment covers the period from 2002 to 2007.

 Authorities accuse the 52-year-old Castro of kidnapping the women between 2002 and 2004 when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.

Castro was arrested after Berry escaped the Seymour Avenue house on May 6, leading police to rescue her and her daughter, as well as Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

Castro is being held on an $8 million bond.  His lawyers have  raised the possibility of a plea deal if the death penalty is taken off the table.

The aggravated murder charge against Castro -- for the alleged forced termination of one of the women's pregnancies -- carries the possibility of a death sentence.

The prosecutor's capital review committee is expected to meet next week to determine whether to seek the death penalty.
Castro's lawyers have been asked to attend to present mitigating evidence on his behalf.

Judge Russo says he is going forward with an August 5 trial date but says it can be delayed.

The next pre-trial is scheduled for July 24 a 8:45 a.m.

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