(Cleveland) – Ariel Castro will spend the rest of his life in prison. The man accused of kidnapping three young Cleveland women, holding them ten years in his house on Seymour Avenue, and raping them numerous times, has accepted a plea bargain.
Castro has pled guilty, and as part of the acceptance of the plea bargain, has agreed to accept a sentence of life in prison without parole plus 1000 years.
The death penalty will not be a factor, even though two of the 977 counts against Castro in the indictment are for the aggravated murder of an unborn baby.
Because Castro pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, he will automatically be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Castro will be sentenced August 1, at which time his victims and their families can make statements that will go on the record.
In a written statement, Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry said, "Amanda, Gina, and Michelle are relieved by today's plea. 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. They continue to desire their privacy. They do not wish to speak to the media or anyone else, and they thank people for continuing to respect their privacy as they grow stronger. They are immensely grateful for the support they have received from family, friends, and the donations to the Cleveland Courage Fund."
The women were all abducted along Lorain Avenue on Cleveland's west side at various times about a decade ago.
In May, Berry forced her way out of Castro’s house with the help of neighbors who heard her cries for help. Inside, Cleveland police found DeJesus, Knight, and Berry’s six-year-old daughter, who was proven through DNA testing to be Castro’s daughter.
During the hearing before Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Russo, Castro said he accepted the plea bargain. He is also giving up his house on Seymour Avenue to a land bank, which is likely to oversee demolition of the house once it's released by the courts, as it's been considered a crime scene.
Judge Russo said that Castro will be labeled a Tier III sex offender for the rest of his life, also noting that since Castro will never be released from prison, reporting to authorities is a moot point.
Castro said in court he knew that when he was arrested he'd never be a free man again, saying, "I pretty much knew I was going to get the book thrown at me."
He put the blame for what happened on being sexually abused as a child, and from an addiction to pornography.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty isn't buying it, saying after the hearing that they will demonstrate at next week's sentencing hearing that Castro is "a fraud and a coward."
McGinty is pleased that Castro accepted the plea bargain and its resulting sentence will never allow Castro to be freed from prison, saying Castro will leave bars either "nailed in a box or in an ash can."