Cleveland kidnapping suspect pleads not guilty to 977 counts
CNN — A Cleveland man accused of murder, rape and holding three women captive for about a decade in his home pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the 977 counts against him.
Ariel Castro's plea is his second in a month, necessitated by a fresh indictment issued by a grand jury last week. The 977-count indictment added 648 counts to the 329 to which he pleaded not guilty in June.
Castro, wearing an orange jumpsuit and flanked by two defense attorneys, kept his eyes closed during most of Wednesday's proceedings in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. The judge periodically instructed him to open his eyes to make sure he understood the charges and his rights as she was reading them.
Authorities said Castro abducted Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Georgina "Gina" DeJesus separately in a two-year period starting in 2002.
The new indictment encompasses all the years of the women's alleged captivity, whereas the previous indictment covered only the first four and a half years, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office said.