The man accused of imprisoning three women in his home and subjecting them to rapes and beatings for a decade avoided the death penalty Friday, painting himself a victim and pleading guilty in a deal that will keep him in prison for life.
Castro is accused of kidnapping, beating, restraining, raping and impregnating the young women until their remarkable and narrow escape two months ago.
He fathered a child with one of the women, induced five miscarriages in another by starving and punching her, and assaulted one with a vacuum cord around her neck when she tried to escape. He was accused of chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van – just a few of the shocking allegations released shortly after their escape.
Ariel Castro, 53, pleaded guilty to 937 counts in the deal, which sends him to prison for life without parole, plus 1,000 years. Prosecutors agreed to take a possible death penalty charge off the table, The Washington Post reports.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said of Castro:
“The captor is now the captive.”
The women were reportedly relieved with Castro’s conviction as they will not be subjected to testifying in a long, drawn-out trial. A statement released on their behalf said:
“They are satisfied by this resolution to the case, and are looking forward to having these legal proceedings draw to a final close in the near future.”
Castro’s addiction to pornography
Castro painted himself a victim during his day in court Friday, ABC News reports. He told the judge he was addicted to pornography, had a “sexual problem,” and had been a sexual abuse victim himself long ago.
Castro said Friday:
“My addiction to pornography and my sexual problem has really taken a toll on my mind.”
Castro was far more engaged than in previous court appearances where he mostly kept his head down and eyes closed. He answered the judge’s questions in a clear voice, saying he understood he would never be released from prison and adding he expected he was:
… “going to get the book thrown at me.” … “I knew that when I first spoke to the FBI agent, when I first got arrested.”
At the end of the two-and-a-half hour hearing the judge accepted the deal and declared Castro guilty. Sentencing was set for Thursday.
Castro was born in Puerto Rico. He said he can read and understand English well but that he has trouble with comprehension.
The three young women
Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight vanished separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each had accepted a ride from Castro, who remained friends with the family of one of the women and even attended vigils over the years marking her disappearance. They escaped May 6, 2013.
Castro fathered a 6-year-old daughter with Berry, now 27, authorities said. The child was born Christmas 2006. On that day he raped one of the other women who had helped deliver the baby.
Berry told authorities that she, her child and the other women never saw a doctor during their captivity. Knight, now 32, said her five pregnancies ended after Castro starved and repeatedly punched her.
The women escaped Castro’s house when one of them kicked out part of a door and called to neighbors for help. Castro was arrested within hours and has remained behind bars.
The women are moving on with their lives, making the best of a horrible situation. All three created a video to thank their families and supporters.
Click here to view the video on YouTube.
Knight, glancing at a written statement in her hands, said:
“Walking hand in hand with my best friend, I will not let the situation define who I am – I will define the situation. I don’t want to be consumed with hatred. With that being said, we need to take a leap of faith and know that God is in control. We have been hurt by people, but we need to rely on God as being the judge.”