CLEVELAND -- Ariel Castro has entered a not guilty plea to 977 charges in connection with the kidnappings of three women.
Castro was arraigned on the new charges in court this morning. During the proceeding, the arraignment judge -- Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Pamela Barker -- repeatedly told Castro to look at her and to keep his eyes open.
"I'm trying," replied Castro.
Barker explained she wanted to make sure Castro understood the charges against him.In previous court appearances, Castro kept his eyes averted and closed.
Castro's lawyers entered a not guilty plea to the expanded 977 charge indictmenton his behalf. Castro had previously entered a not guilty plea to the initial 329-count indictment.
Barker continued Castro's bond at $8 million.
The new indictment expands upon the previous charges and covers the entire alleged time frame for which Castro is accused of holding Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight captive inside his Seymour Avenue home.
The women had been missing for a decade.
Police rescued the women on May 6 after Amanda Berry broke free from the home and ran toa neighbor to call for help.
Barker has maintained a no-contact order between Castro and the victims.
Prosecutors have not yet determined whether to seek the death penalty in the case.
Castro faces aggravated murder charged in connection with alleged forced termination of one of the women's pregnancies. His lawyers have said they would be open to a possible plea deal if the death penalty was taken off the table.