Ariel Castro pleads guilty in Ohio kidnapping case

Crime

Ariel Castro pleads guilty in Ohio kidnapping case

Posted:

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Cleveland man who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty.

Ariel Castro told the judge he was addicted pornography, had a "sexual problem" and had been a sexual abuse victim himself long ago.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years.

Castro, 53, said he understood that he would never get out of prison, saying he expected he was "going to get the book thrown at me." He later added, "I knew that when I first spoke to the FBI agent when I first got arrested."

Castro, wearing glasses for the first time in court, was far more interactive than in previous court appearances when he mostly kept his head down and eyes closed. He answered the judge's questions in a clear, intelligible voice, saying he understood the proceedings and that he would never be released from prison.

Castro, who was born in Puerto Rico, said he could read and understand English well but had trouble with comprehension.

"My addiction to pornography and my sexual problem has really taken a toll on my mind." He later said he had been a sexual abuse victim as a child, but the judge cut him off.

Near the end of the 2 1/2-hour hearing, the judge accepted the pleas and declared Castro guilty. Sentencing was set for Thursday.

The deal comes more than a month after a statement issued on behalf of the women said they were "hopeful for a just and prompt resolution" and had "great faith in the prosecutor's office and the court."

Castro had been scheduled for trial Aug. 5 on a 977-count indictment, but 40 counts were dropped as part of the plea deal. The indictment included two counts of aggravated murder related to accusations that he punched and starved one woman until she miscarried. The former school bus driver also was charged with hundreds of counts of kidnapping and rape, plus assault and other counts.

He was accused of repeatedly restraining the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van. The charges alleged Castro assaulted one woman with a vacuum cord around her neck when she tried to escape.

The sticking point on a plea deal had been whether the prosecutor would rule out the death penalty.

The three women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each said they 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.

The women escaped Castro's house May 6 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.

News that Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus and Michelle Knight had been found alive electrified the Cleveland area, where two of them were household names after years of searches, publicity and vigils. But elation soon turned to shock as allegations about their treatment began to emerge.

Castro fathered a 6-year-old daughter with Berry, authorities said. They allege that on the day the child was born, Christmas 2006, Castro 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 said her five pregnancies ended after Castro starved and repeatedly punched her.

The Associated Press does not usually identify people who may be victims of sexual assault, but the names of the three women were widely circulated after they disappeared, and they appeared in an online video thanking the public for its support.

The judge read their names in court Friday as the hearing was carried live on national cable news.

Since their rescue, the women have sought to stay out of sight and have appealed for privacy.

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

  • Email Alert Sign Up

    Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.

    * denotes required fields


    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Go to KSWT-TV's Facebook page
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • National

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits willMore >>
    Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be delayed if congressional Republicans fail to increase the government's borrowing authority in a looming showdown over the nation's debt and spending.More >>
  • Yuma to Hold Back to School Rodeo Saturday

    Yuma to Hold Back to School Rodeo Saturday

    Yuma, AZ - The City of Yuma invites the community the Inaugural Back To School Rodeo, Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Civic Center, 1440 W. Desert Hills Drive The Back to School Rodeo is aMore >>
    The City of Yuma invites the community the Inaugural Back To School Rodeo, Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Civic Center, 1440 W. Desert Hills Drive. The Back to School Rodeo is a free event that will bring more than 50 community organizations under one roof to provide a one-stop destination for area children's educational needs. Organizers say it is designed for grades K-8. More >>
  • Yuma

    Man tries to smuggle more than $500,000 worth of cocaine into U.S. from Mexico

    Man tries to smuggle more than $500,000 worth of cocaine into U.S. from Mexico

    ANDRADE, Calif. (13 On Your Side) - A Yuma man is busted for trying to smuggle more than $500,000 worth of cocaine into the United States from Mexico. Customs and Border Protection officers discoveredMore >>
    A Yuma man is busted for trying to smuggle more than $500,000 worth of cocaine into the United States from Mexico.More >>
  • Yuma

    Resident speaks out about armed robbery in his neighborhood

    Resident speaks out about armed robbery in his neighborhood

    YUMA, AZ- Yuma Police continue to look for an armed robber wearing a black ski mask who used a shot gun to rob his victim. According to police an SUV with several passengers pulled up to a man whoMore >>
    Yuma Police continue to look for an armed robber  wearing a black ski mask who used a shot gun to rob his victim.More >>
  • Out with the old...

    Out with the old...

    It has been a staple in the Yuma community since the early 70's and the place to meet for the young and old alike. The Southgate Mall now sits on broken asphalt and bares the scares of more than 40 years; decades being passed from owner to owner and now it's set to be torn down to make way for a new more improved shopping center. Today the building has been stripped from within to make way for demolition equipment to tear down the center portion of the mall. Stores like Sear, Burlington and t...More >>
    It has been a staple in the Yuma community since the early 70's and the place to meet for the young and old alike. The Southgate Mall now sits on broken asphalt and bares the scares of more than 40 years; decades being passed from owner to owner and now it's set to be torn down to make way for a new more improved shopping center. Today the building has been stripped from within to make way for demolition equipment to tear down the center portion of the mall. Stores like Sear, Burlington and t...More >>
  • Israel invades Gaza after Hamas rejects truce

    Israel invades Gaza after Hamas rejects truce

    Thursday, July 17 2014 10:23 PM EDT2014-07-18 02:23:48 GMT
    The Israeli military says it has struck 37 targets in Gaza ahead of a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire meant to allow civilians to stock up after 10 days of fighting.More >>
    The heavy thud of tank shells, often just seconds apart, echoed across the Gaza Strip early Friday as thousands of Israeli soldiers launched a ground invasion, escalating a 10-day campaign of heavy air bombardments to try...More >>
  • New-Car Sales to Jump 11.6 Percent Year-Over-Year in July

    New-Car Sales to Jump 11.6 Percent Year-Over-Year in July

    New-vehicle sales are expected to increase 11.6 percent year-over-year to a total of 1.46 million units, resulting in an estimated 16.6 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), according to Kelley Blue Book...More >>
    New-vehicle sales are expected to increase 11.6 percent year-over-year to a total of 1.46 million units, resulting in an estimated 16.6 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), according to Kelley Blue Book...More >>
  • California hospitals fined over medical mistakes

    California hospitals fined over medical mistakes

    Six hospitals in Riverside and San Bernardino counties have been fined by state health officials for mistakes during surgery and other care that harmed patients - and in one case led to death.More >>
    Six hospitals in Riverside and San Bernardino counties have been fined by state health officials for mistakes during surgery and other care that harmed patients - and in one case led to death.More >>