Cleveland Kidnapping Suspect Ariel Castro Accepts Plea Deal
(CLEVELAND) — Suspected Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro accepted a plea deal Friday that will send him to prison for life plus “not less than 1,000 years” with no chance of parole for abducting three women and keeping them as sex slaves for over a decade.
“I’m fully aware and I do consent to it,” Castro said at a hearing Friday in a Cuyahoga County court. The deal will spare him from the possibility of facing the death penalty.
“I knew I was going to get the book thrown at me,” Castro, 52, told the court.
Judge Michael Russo gave him a sentence that is not in the book, giving him life “plus not less than 1,000 years consecutively to follow life without parole.”
The former school bus driver was also accused of the aggravated murder of a fetus after forcibly causing an abortion in one of his victims that he is accused of impregnating. That charge that would have carried the death penalty had he been convicted.
Castro’s trial was scheduled to start Aug. 5.
He had previously pleaded not guilty to nearly 1,000 counts of kidnapping, rape and other crimes. Among those charges are two counts of aggravated murder for allegedly punching in the belly one of the women until she miscarried.
The victims, Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus were discovered in Castro’s home in May. They were abducted between 2002 and 2004, when they were in their teens or early 20s.
Prosecutors said if evidence of additional crimes came to light, Castro could still be indicted on future charges that included the death penalty.
Castro said he was “willing to work with FBI and…would tell them everything” about his crimes.
He said he read and signed the plea deal and understood it though “my addiction to pornography and my sexual problem has taken a toll on my mind” that sometimes caused problems with comprehension.
“I was victim as a child and it just kept going,” Castro blurted out as an explanation for his crimes. But the judge cut him off, advising him to save his story for his sentencing hearing.
The judge still must accept the terms of the deal agreed to by lawyers and Castro, following a sentencing hearing where the victims may speak.
The victims, through their spokesperson, had previously said they did not want to testify at a trial.
The house where the women were held captive will be torn down, prosecutors said.
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