Ariel Castro plea deal coming, would spare accused kidnapper death penalty

Castro faces 977 counts, including kidnapping, rape and murder. (Police photo)

Ariel Castro, the man accused of kidnapping and holding three women in Cleveland for as much as a decade, is close to accepting a plea deal that would spare him the death penalty, WKYC reports.

Castro earlier pleaded not guilty to nearly 1,000 counts of kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder. Criminal charges against him include 512 counts of kidnapping and 446 counts of rape.

Three woman, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were all found alive inside the 52-year-old Castro's Cleveland home on May 6. They had been missing for several years each; in the case of Berry, she hadn't been seen for a decade.

A Reuters report indicates that prosecutors and Castro's defense attorneys have been working toward a deal for some time.

More to come.