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Accused kidnapper Castro may not see six-year-old daughter: judge

Ariel Castro, 52, sits with his head down between his attorneys Jaye Schlachet (R) and Craig Weintraub (L) during his pre-trial hearing on c
Ariel Castro, 52, sits with his head down between his attorneys Jaye Schlachet (R) and Craig Weintraub (L) during his pre-trial hearing on c

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - An Ohio judge on Wednesday rejected a surprise request from accused Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro to have visits in jail from his six-year-old daughter, fathered with a woman allegedly held captive in his house.

With his head down and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, Castro was barely audible at a court hearing when asked the judge to see his daughter, appearing to catch his own lawyers off guard.

Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Russo immediately refused to lift a "no contact" order with the girl, who escaped with her mother Amanda Berry from Castro's house on May 6.

"It is not appropriate," Russo said to Castro's request.

Russo also said that two court-appointed psychiatrists had found Castro competent to stand trial on more than 329 charges of rape, kidnapping and murder for holding three women captive for about a decade. Russo set a date of August 5 for the start of the trial.

He has also been accused of aggravated murder by beating and starving one of the victims to prompt a miscarriage.

Prosecutors say Castro abducted Berry, now 27, Michelle Knight, 32 and Gina DeJesus, 23, between 2002 and 2004, and imprisoned them in his home until they were rescued on May 6.

A grand jury is expected to convene soon to consider more charges against Castro, who so far has been charged with crimes during the period 2001 to 2007, prosecutor Blaise Thomas said.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Greg McCune, Bernard Orr)

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