Ohio lawmaker wants sex crimes to be death penalty eligible after 3 Cleveland woman held captive

CLEVELAND - A Cincinnati-area legislator introduced a bill in the Ohio House in response to the kidnappings of three Cleveland women.

State Rep. John Becker, a Republican from Union Township, proposed House Bill 244 on Friday, which would allow prosecutors to pursue the death penalty for some sex-related offenses.

"In light of the Ariel Castro kidnapping case of three young women in Cleveland, I wanted to give prosecutors the option to pursue the death penalty for repeat sexual offenders," Becker said in a news release on Friday.  "For various reasons, I anticipate that the death penalty would be pursued in only the most heinous crimes."

Castro confessed to holding Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight captive in his Seymour Avenue house for a decade.  He pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including aggravated murder, kidnapping and rape, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 1,000 years. The aggravated murder counts were for the termination of Knight's pregnancy and did not include death penalty specifications.

If Becker's bill is passed into law, people convicted of crimes like aggravated rape, aggravated sexual battery and aggravated unlawful sexual conduct with a minor would be eligible for the death penalty.

"Prosecutors would be able to use the death penalty threat as a tool for plea bargain negotiations," Becker said. "Nobody in this country has ever been executed for a sex crime, but that could change."

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