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Accused Cleveland Kidnapper Is Ruled Competent For Trial

Ariel Castro, the man accused of kidnapping and raping three women while he held them prisoner in his house for about 10 years, has been declared mentally competent to stand trial. The finding comes one week after a Cleveland judge ordered Castro to undergo an evaluation.

The results of that analysis were presented at a court hearing this morning.

At the same hearing, Castro, 52, also asked Judge Michael Russo to allow him to have "contact with a child he fathered with one of the three women he is accused of holding captive for more than a decade in his Cleveland home," as Cleveland's Plain Dealer reports.

The judge rejected the request, saying such contact would be inappropriate.

Castro has pleaded not guilty to 329 counts on charges including kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder, which is related to the alleged termination of a pregnancy. Those accusations cover a period up to 2007; more charges against Castro may be pending.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, the three women Castro is accused of holding prisoner, were rescued in May. Castro allegedly kidnapped them in separate incidents between 2002 and 2004.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty reportedly plans to seek the death penalty in Castro's trial, which is tentatively scheduled to begin in early August.

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