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Source: Plea deal ‘close’ for Cleveland kidnapping suspect

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By Ronni Berke, CNN

(CNN) — Prosecutors and defense lawyers are close to a plea deal in the case of Ariel Castro, a Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive for about a decade in his home, a Cuyahoga County court source said Thursday.

Castro, charged with 977 counts — including murder, on suspicion of ending one of his captives’ pregnancies — is set to go to trial August 5 if a deal is not reached.

The murder charges could trigger the death penalty, but Castro’s defense attorneys have said they want a deal that would take the take the death penalty off the table

“Negotiations are close, but nothing is final,” the court source said Thursday, adding that removing the death penalty has been discussed.

“It’s safe to say (Castro) wouldn’t take a deal with the death penalty,” the source said.