Prosecutors offer plea deal to accused Ohio kidnapper

Ariel Castro, 53, walks into the court room with his head down for a pre-trial hearing on charges including rape, kidnapping and murder in Cleveland, Ohio July 24, 2013. Ohio prosecutors have offered Castro a plea deal to avoid a trial. -- PHOTO: REU
Ariel Castro, 53, walks into the court room with his head down for a pre-trial hearing on charges including rape, kidnapping and murder in Cleveland, Ohio July 24, 2013. Ohio prosecutors have offered Castro a plea deal to avoid a trial. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

CLEVELAND (REUTERS) - Ohio prosecutors have offered accused Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro a plea deal to avoid a trial on charges he abducted three women and brutalised them over a period of about a decade, two Cleveland television stations reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

Avoiding a trial would spare the women from testifying about years of alleged abuse in Castro's home. The women were freed from his house on May 6 along with a 6-year-old girl he fathered with one of the women.

WKYC-TV said the deal would not include the death penalty. WOIO-TV said a decision on the proposal was imminent.

If an agreement is reached, it would be presented in court on Friday, both stations said.

Lawyers for Castro, and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which brought the charges, said at a court hearing on Wednesday that they were talking about a deal but gave no details.

Castro's lawyers have said they were willing to consider an agreement under which he would plead guilty to some charges.

Castro, 53, is charged with 977 counts including kidnapping and repeated rape. He is also charged with murder under a fetal homicide law for allegedly forcing one of the women to miscarry.

The murder charge could carry the death penalty.