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After Ariel Castro's suicide, questions linger

Ariel Castro, convicted of holding three women hostage in his Cleveland home for 10 years, hung himself in prison on Tuesday. This news has prompted reactions of anger from some and left others wondering why he was taken off suicide watch.

By Kim PalmerReuters / September 4, 2013

This August file photo shows Ariel Castro in the courtroom during the sentencing phase in Cleveland. Castro, who held 3 women captive for a decade, committed suicide on Tuesday in his Ohio prison cell. Castro's attorney said prison officials never provided an explanation for lifting the suicide watch.

AP Photo/Tony Dejak, file

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CLEVELAND

Ariel Castro committed suicide by hanging himself with a bed sheet in his prison cell, an Ohio coroner said on Wednesday, just one month into a life sentence for the kidnapping, rape and beatings of three women he kept imprisoned for a decade.

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The former school bus driver, who pleaded guilty to 937 counts in July, was found hanged in his cell at an Ohio prison late Tuesday.

An autopsy on Wednesday confirmed the cause of death was suicide by hanging, said Dr. Jan Gorniak, the Franklin County coroner.

"This man couldn't take, for even a month, a small portion of what he had dished out for more than a decade," said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, who agreed to a deal that spared Castro the death penalty in exchange for life in prison.

Castro had been taken off suicide watch while still in Cleveland's Cuyahoga County Jail on June 5, a spokesman said, and his was the seventh suicide in Ohio prisons this year, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which called for a full investigation.

State prison and county jail officials denied Castro permission to receive independent mental health counseling, even though he had contemplated suicide in 2004 and was likely to suffer depression after being sentenced to life in prison, his defense lawyers said.

"We were never provided any explanation," defense attorney Craig Weintraub said. "We don't know what the rationale was to take him off suicide watch."

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said its mental health staff found that Castro did not need to be placed on suicide watch, which would have meant a guard checked on him every 15 minutes.

"Our credentialed mental health staff determined this," said spokeswoman Ricky Seyfang. "Suicide watch was not required for him."

But the department said in a statement it set up a committee of legal, health and other experts to review the death and publish findings within a month.

Castro, 53, was sentenced on Aug. 1 to life plus 1,000 years in prison without the possibility of parole for abducting the three women and keeping them in the dungeon-like confines of his house, where they were starved, beaten and sexually assaulted.

The case captured international attention when it broke in May, as many people were elated by news the three women had been found alive, then stunned by the details of their ordeal.

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