Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro appeared in court today to accept a plea deal under which he will serve a life sentence plus 1,000 years for the kidnap and rape of Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus.
Ariel Castro, 53, was said to have agreed to the deal – after initially pleading not guilty to all 977 counts against him – to spare him the death penalty. His previous not guilty pleas were withdrawn.
Under the offer, Ariel Castro will spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole, meaning he will die in prison.
It also means his three victims Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus will not have to testify about their more than ten-year ordeal in front of a jury.
Speaking in court today, Ariel Castro said: “I said I was willing to work with the FBI and I would tell them everything.”
The judge asked him if he understood that he would die in prison and there would never be a possibility he would be released from prison.
Ariel Castro replied: “I do understand that and I said because of the s** crimes I knew I would have the book thrown at me.
“There are some things I do not comprehend because of my s**ual problems throughout the years. But I trust my lawyers and I understand my rights and the sentence.”
Offering some form of an explanation for his despicable crimes, Ariel Castro said: “I was a victim as a child and it just kept going.”
The judge cut him off and told him to save his story for his sentencing hearing.
Prosecutors said if evidence of additional crimes came to light, Ariel Castro could still be indicted on future charges that included the death penalty.
Ariel Castro’s lawyers have said for weeks that they would consider an agreement under which the former Cleveland school bus driver would plead guilty to some charges in return for his life.
He has been charged with 977 counts including kidnapping and repeated rape. He has also been charged with murder under a fetal homicide law for allegedly forcing one of the women to miscarry.
Gina DeJesus, 23, Michelle Knight, 32, and Amanda Berry, 27 were freed from Ariel Castro’s home in a rundown area of Cleveland in May.
The house will be torn down, it was revealed this week.
Also freed was a six-year-old girl who, according to DNA evidence, was fathered by Ariel Castro with Amanda Berry during her captivity.
A grand jury on July 17 added 648 charges to a previous indictment against Ariel Castro and an $8 million bond was put in place.
The indictment against Ariel Castro alleges he repeatedly restrained the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van.
It says one of the women tried to escape and he assaulted her with a vacuum cord around her neck.