Coroner says 'no signs' Ariel Castro died in sex act

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Ariel Castro in the courtroom in Cleveland. Photo: August 2013
Image caption,
Ariel Castro, who left no suicide note, was found partially naked in his cell

The coroner who classified the death of Ohio captor Ariel Castro as a suicide says there were no signs he had been choking himself for sexual pleasure.

It follows a state prison report that suggested his death by hanging last month may not have been suicide.

It said he was found partially naked in his cell and hinted at accidental death by auto-erotic asphyxiation.

Castro was beginning a life sentence for imprisoning, raping and torturing three women in his home for ten years.

Details of his death were published by the Ohio Department for Rehabilitation and Correction on Thursday.

'Not enough evidence'

According to the findings, Castro was found "hanging from a hinge in the window of his cell by a sheet wrapped around his neck. His pants and underwear were pulled down to his ankles".

The convict left no suicide note.

The report said Castro's intentions were unclear, however the facts had been "relayed to the Ohio State Highway Patrol for consideration of the possibility of auto-erotic asphyxiation" - the act of restricting air supply for sexual pleasure.

But Franklin County coroner Jan Gorniak said there were no signs Castro had been sexually stimulated, speaking in a statement to media on Thursday.

"That's why I called it a hanging suicide," she is quoted as saying by the Plain Dealer newspaper.

Image caption,
Castro's home, where the women were imprisoned, was torn down in August

She suggested his trousers and underwear may have simply fallen down while he was hanging and was not enough evidence to back up the idea of auto-erotic asphyxiation.

Ms Gorniak said she had not been consulted by anyone involved in the report over the possible cause of death.

The report also found that prison guards had faked logs about their monitoring of Ariel Castro in the hours before he killed himself.

Officials found video footage indicating that two guards failed to make checks at least eight times on that day.

Castro was supposed to have been checked by guards in his isolation cell in Orient, Ohio, every 30 minutes.

The 53-year-old was taken off suicide watch in June after authorities determined he was not at risk of taking his own life.

His lawyer, Craig Weintraub, told reporters last month that Castro had been denied permission to receive independent counselling despite previously contemplating suicide and that he was likely to suffer depression after his sentence.

The former school bus driver was sentenced in August to life imprisonment without parole plus 1,000 years for the abduction of Michelle Knight, 32, Amanda Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 23, from the Cleveland streets between 2002-04.

The three women escaped from Castro's home on 6 May.

In an interview soon after his conviction, Castro's lawyers said that he fit the profile of someone with a sociopathic disorder.