Ariel Castro, the man behind the horrifying Cleveland kidnappings, avoided the death penalty by taking a plea deal that makes sure he will die in prison. The 53-year old former bus driver who faced 977 counts against him, including aggravated murder, is set to be sentenced August 1.
Here’s what you should know about the latest developments in this case.
1. The Deal Calls for Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole — Plus 1,000 Years
The deal comes over a month after a statement issued on behalf of the women that said they were “hopeful for a just and prompt resolution” and had “great faith in the prosecutor’s office and the court.” The three women had told CNN that that they were hoping for a plea deal because they did not want to take the stand and face Castro. Castro’s trial on almost 1,000 counts had been scheduled to start August 5 but the defense and prosecution have been negotiating a plea for weeks.
2. Castro Avoids the Possibility of the Death Penalty
The caveat of the plea deal included the ruling out the possibility of the death penalty. It took Judge Russo more than three hours to go over the plea deal agreement line by line and question Castro about it.
3. This Spares His Victims the Trauma of Testifying in a Lengthy Trial
The kidnapped victims include the 6-year-old daughter Castro fathered with Berry.
4. He’s Pleading Guilty to 937 of 977 Counts
Castro had been previously scheduled for trial on August 5 on the 977- count indictment, including hundreds of counts of kidnapping and rape plus assault. Prosecutors had asked that 40 of the charges be dismissed.
The indictment also included two counts of aggravated murdered linked to accusations that he starved and punched one of the victims until she miscarried. Knight said her five pregnancies ended after Castro starved and repeatedly punched her.
Other graphic accusations include that he repeatedly chained the women up to a bedroom heater, a pole or inside a van. One of the charges alleged that the former bus driver assaulted one of the women with a vacuum cord around her neck when she attempted to escape.
5. He Admitted He Has a ‘Sexual Problem’
You will never be released from prison, Ariel Castro responded that he knew he was going “to get the book thrown” at him. When the judge asked if he understood that he would not receive trial, Castro responded, “I am fully aware and I due consent to it.” The former bus driver also felt the need to add, “I also like to state that when I got first got arrested…I said to David I was willing to work with the FBI and that I would tell them everything.” He objected to being labeled a sexual “predator.” When the judge asked if he had any questions, Ariel responded:
I pretty much understand everything is… I put my trust in them because i know they are good lawyers so I… there are somethings …I dont comprehend because of my sexual problem throughout my whole years. But pretty much yes I understand what they [lawyers] have been telling me.