Castro gets life without parole for Ohio kidnappings
Victim tells abductor she spent ‘11 years in hell’, ‘now your hell is just beginning’
Ariel Castro pleads to Judge Michael Russo during his sentencing in Cleveland, Ohio, yesterday. Photograph: Angelo Merendino/Getty Images
The Cleveland man who abducted and held three women for about a decade was sentenced to life without parole plus an additional 1,000 years in prison for aggravated murder, kidnapping and rape.
Ariel Castro (53) pleaded guilty to 937 charges last week in a deal with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty for aggravated murder as a result of his brutalisation and starvation of one of his victims. Michelle Knight miscarried five times over her treatment at the hands of the former school bus driver.
“These people are trying to paint me as a monster and I’m not a monster – I’m sick,” Castro said in a rambling, often bizarre statement to the court.
He was addicted to sex and porn, he told the judge.
Castro denied he had tortured Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Ms Knight after kidnapping them between 2002 and 2004. He argued with the judge, disputing that he was a violent sexual predator and saying there was “a lot of harmony” in the house where he held the women.
Judge Michael Russo said that Castro’s “merciless acts deserve maximum prison time”.
He sentenced the Puerto Rico native to spend the rest of his life in jail, adding that “a person can only die in prison once”.
“No single prison term adequately reflects the enormity of your conduct,” the judge said.
In an emotional victim impact statement to the court, a tearful Ms Knight, who was held the longest by Castro, told the judge that she could forgive him but that she would never forget.
“You took 11 years of my life away. I spent 11 years in hell; now your hell is just beginning,” said Ms Knight, the only victim to address the court.
“I will live on. You will die a little bit every day.”