"What is offensive is that the women and the media wants to demonize this man," says his attorney

By Andrea Billups
May 15, 2013 08:25 AM
Cleveland Police Department/AP

Ariel Castro, who is facing kidnapping and rape charges over the alleged abduction of three Cleveland women, will plead not guilty, his lawyers say.

“The initial portrayal of him is one of a quote ‘monster,’ and that is not the impression that I got,” one of his two attorneys, Craig Weintraub, said in an interview that aired on Wednesday’s Today show.

Added Castro’s co-counsel, attorney Jaye Schlachet: “He is a human being, but what is offensive is that the women and the media want to demonize this man before they know the whole story, and I think it’s unfair and not equitable.”

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While prosecutors have alleged that Castro, 52, operated a torture chamber and private prison, keeping the women – Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight – incarcerated and often chained for up to a decade inside his Cleveland home, Castro’s attorneys say they know the whole story, which will come out as the case moves ahead.

“I am aware of how he came in contact with them,” Weintraub told NBC News about the three victims. He did not reveal further details of the defense’s strategy.

A not-guilty plea would send the case to trial, which could force the three women to testify and, as experts have pointed out, re-live what authorities say took place in the house.

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DNA tests show Castro is the father of a daughter, 6, with victim Amanda Berry, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced earlier this week. While Castro is kept locked in the Cuyahoga County jail cell in isolation, his lawyers say he is concerned about his child and that he is a loving dad.

Speaking to TV station WKYC Tuesday, the attorneys – Schlachet also defended convicted Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell, now on death row for the murder of 11 women whose bodies were found at his home – expressed their concern about Castro’s receiving a fair trial.

“Mr. Castro is extremely committed to the well-being and positive future of his daughter, who he loves and cares about,” said Weintraub.

Craig Weintraub (left) and Jaye Schlachet

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