Ariel Castro
Ariel Castro struck a plea deal to avoid the death penalty for his crimes of kidnapping, rape and other charges in the abductions of three Cleveland teens. Reuters

Ariel Castro, the man accused of kidnapping three young girls and holding them captive for nearly a decade inside his Cleveland home, is competent to stand trial, an Ohio judge ruled Wednesday.

Castro, 52, is facing 329 charges of kidnapping, rape and murder in the abductions of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. The murder charges were filed because it’s also alleged that Castro is responsible for the death of unborn babies after impregnating his captives.

The Cleveland kidnappings suspect was given a psychological examination to determine whether he is fit to stand trial. Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Russo said at a Wednesday court hearing for Castro that the results of that exam indicated that Castro is competent to face the charges at trial, the Associated Press reported.

Also at the hearing, Russo denied Castro’s request to visit the 6-year-old child he fathered with Berry.

“It’s not appropriate,” the judge said, according to Reuters.

The judge also indicated that Castro’s trial, set for Aug. 5, may be delayed, according to the AP. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for July 24.

Berry, now 27, was 16 years old when she went missing in 2003 and was feared dead until a neighbor heard her screams for help May 6. Also rescued were Knight, who was 21 went she went missing, and DeJesus, who was 14 years old when she was abducted.

Castro allegedly subjected the girls to both sexual and psychological abuse. According to the complaint filed against him, he repeatedly raped the girls, chained them in his basement and forced Berry to watch vigils held in her honor that were broadcast on television. He was also accused of starving the girls.

Castro was charged with the kidnappings on May 8.