A man accused of kidnapping three women, keeping them captive in his home in Cleveland, Ohio, for about a decade and raping them repeatedly is facing a final pre-trial hearing, a day after his lawyers and prosecutors said they have entered into plea negotiations.

Ariel Castro, 53, is due to appear before a Cuyahoga County judge who wants to be updated on the discussions.

Plea deal negotiations are hinging on whether the prosecutor would rule out the death penalty as the defence has demanded.

Castro, whose trial is scheduled to start on August 5, has pleaded not guilty to nearly 1,000 counts of kidnap, rape and other crimes. His indictment includes two counts of aggravated murder related to accusations that he punched and starved one of the women until she miscarried.

The women escaped to freedom in May.


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