Ariel Castro, 52, may face the death penalty with charges of aggravated murder, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced Thursday afternoon.
Castro was arrested Monday after 27-year-old Amanda Berry, who was kidnapped in 2003, escaped from bondage in Castro's Cleveland home. Berry and two other women – 32-year-old Michelle Knight, missing since 2002, and 23-year-old Gina DeJesus, missing since 2004 – were allegedly imprisoned and raped for years by Castro in his modest home.
McGinty said that the death penalty is reserved for "those most depraved criminals" and said his office would engage in a "formal process" to decide whether or not to seek execution as punishment for Castro. The prosecutor said "the victims desperately need space and time. ... They need a chance to heal before we seek further in depth evidence from them."
Castro, currently charged with kidnapping and rape, made his first court appearance Thursday morning and was ordered held on $8 million bail. He is currently on suicide watch in jail, Reuters reports.
"Today the situation is turned on him," Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Brian Murphy said in court, Reuters reports. "Mr. Castro stands before you a captive, in captivity, a prisoner."
Two of Castro's brothers were arrested Monday. Initial reports suggested they were involved in the kidnappings, but police clarified Wednesday that there's no evidence they knew of the crimes. They nonetheless remain in police custody because of unrelated outstanding warrants for their arrest.
Knight was impregnated five times in captivity and each time miscarried after Castro allegedly beat her abdomen, according to a police report cited by ABC News. Berry gave birth to a girl who is now 6 years old while she was in captivity.
There are currently 140 men and one woman on death row in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.