Ariel Castro, charged with holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for a decade, is competent to stand trial, a judge ruled today. Judge Michael Russo said the results of an examination last week showed that Castro is mentally able to understand the charges and assist attorneys in his defense. At the end of the hearing, Castro, bearded with his chin tucked to his chest for most of time, asked for permission to visit with the 6-year-old girl he fathered with one of the women he is accused of kidnapping and raping. The judge denied the request. "I just think that would be inappropriate," Russo said.
Also today, prosecutor Saleh Awadallah said a meeting is planned July 11 to discuss the possibility of seeking the death penalty; Awadallah invited Castro's attorney, Craig Weintraub, to submit evidence to him before the meeting to support an argument against the death penalty in the upcoming discussions. Castro's attorneys have previously hinted that he might plead guilty if talk of capital punishment was taken off the table. Awadallah said prosecutors would be going back to the county grand jury to seek more charges against Castro, but he didn't know when that would happen. The trial is scheduled for Aug. 5, but Russo said it could be delayed. Another hearing is set for July 24.