CLEVELAND -- Attorneys for Ariel Castro say he will plead "not guilty to all charges" if a Cuyahoga County grand jury indicts Castro on kidnapping and rape charges in connection with the decade-long disappearance of three women.
Speaking exclusively to the Investigator Tom Meyer, attorneys Craig Weintraub and Jaye Schlachet say that Castro has been wrongly depicted in news accounts.
"The initial portrayal by the media has been one of a 'monster' and that's not the impression that I got when I talked to him for three hours," Weintraub said. "I know that family members who have been interviewed by the media have expressed that as well."
Castro, 52, is currently in the Cuyahoga County Jail on charges of kidnapping and raping Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus in his Seymour Avenue house on Cleveland's near west side. Knight was reported missing in 2002, Berry in 2003 and DeJesus in 2004.
Police sources told Channel 3 News last week that Castro led detectives with exacting detail through the abductions, from how he met them to what they were wearing that day.
Castro also told police he was addicted to sex and could not control his impulses, the sources said.
Weintraub said that Castro has not admitted anything to him, including the kidnappings.
When asked how the three women ended up in Castro's home, Weintraub said: "That fact will be disclosed as the case progresses. I am aware of how he came into contact with them."
DNA tests have also confirmed that Castro fathered a child with Berry, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has said.
"I can tell you that Mr. Castro is extremely committed to the well being and positive future for his daughter, who he loves dearly," said Schlachet. "And if people find that to be a disconnect from what he's alleged to have done, then the people will just have to deal with it. We just know how he feels about his little girl."
The attorneys say they plan to mount the "best defense we can."
"I know the media wants to jump to conclusions and all the people in the community want to say terrible things about the person who's accused," Schlachet said. "We are not even at the beginning of the process. If this was a marathon race, we're not even at the starting line yet."
They may also seek a change of venue in an effort to make sure Castro gets a fair trial, given that "this happened in Cuyahoga County, (and) it's on the heels of the (Anthony) Sowell case," said Weintraub. Sowell was convicted of murdering 11 women whose bodies were found inside his house in 2009.
Both attorneys say they have taken the case to make sure Castro gets a fair trial.
"We're here to make sure that people can exercise their constitutional rights to have an attorney and a fair trial," Weintraub said. "This is simply to ensure the integrity of the process, and if that means that you have to take on difficult or hard cases then so be it, and I've elected to do that."
In the meantime, Castro is currently being held in isolation under suicide watch.
"He's watched completely," said Schlachet said. "He has a window through his door. He doesn't have a television, doesn't have radio, doesn't have magazines, no access to newspapers. He's completely isolated from society."