Ariel Castro insists he's an innocent man, despite the 977 charges filed against him in the Cleveland kidnapping case. He pleaded not guilty to all of them in court today, reports Reuters. Maybe the most interesting part of the arraignment was the judge ordering Castro to keep his head up and his eyes open, because she wanted to make sure he understood what was going on. When he flagged at one point, she told him again, and he responded, "I'm trying," reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Two of the charges against Castro—of aggravated murder, stemming from a miscarriage suffered by one of the women he had allegedly beaten—carry a potential death sentence, and Castro's attorneys are hoping for a plea deal that would keep prosecutors from seeking the death penalty. The judge today kept Castro's $8 million bond in place and continued to forbid him from seeing the 6-year-old girl he fathered with one of the women. (The three victims say they're doing fine in a video released last week.)