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Ariel Castro Update: Court hearing set to discuss possible plea deal in Cleveland kidnapping case

Kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro, accused in the abduction of three women recently freed in Cleveland, Ohio, is seen in a mugshot photo, May 9, 2013. Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department


(CBS/AP) Attorneys for suspected Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro will be in court Friday to discuss a possible plea deal, reports CBS affiliate WOIO.

PICTURES: Ohio women missing for nearly a decade found alive

A law enforcement source told CBS News that the defense is considering a plea offer which would call for no death penalty in exchange for life in prison without parole. However, the source said there has been no final deal has been reached.

A hearing was set for 10 a.m. Friday.

Castro is charged with kidnapping three women and holding them captive in his Cleveland home for about a decade. He faces 977 charges including rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder stemming from the death of an unborn child of one of the victims.

In Ohio, aggravated murder can carry the death penalty, but prosecutors have not indicated whether they would pursue it. It's been widely speculated that his attorneys hope to spare Castro from a death sentence, WOIO reports.

Castro's attorneys have said some of the charges against him are irrefutable and that they were open to a deal, WOIO reports. During a Wednesday court hearing, attorneys indicated plea deal talks have been ongoing.

"My understanding is that the parties have discussed possible pleas and that you're working to see if that would be an effective resolution, is that correct?" Judge Michael Russo asked Wednesday.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys answered in the affirmative.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were found in Castro's Cleveland home in May after Berry kicked in a screen door and yelled to a neighbor for help. Berry, Dejesus and Knight disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004. Each said they had accepted a ride from Castro, who remained friends with Dejesus' family and even attended vigils over the years marking her disappearance.

Besides kidnapping and rape, 977-count indictment charged Castro with seven counts of gross sexual imposition, six counts of felonious assault, three counts of child endangerment and one count of possessing criminal tools.

Castro is accused of repeatedly restraining the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van. The charges say one of the women tried to escape and he assaulted her with a vacuum cord around her neck.

  • Erin Donaghue

    Erin Donaghue covers crime for CBSNews.com's Crimesider.

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