Saturday 24 February 2018

Sex slave kidnapper faces life in jail after plea deal

Ariel Castro
Ariel Castro

Nikhil Kumar

Ariel Castro, the former Cleveland school bus driver arrested in May for kidnapping and holding three women at his home for about a decade and repeatedly raping them, has accepted a plea deal condemning him to prison for life plus 1,000 years. He will not be able to apply for parole.

The agreement with prosecutors will spare Castro the prospect of the death penalty.

The 53-year-old was apprehended after one of his victims, Amanda Berry (27), escaped from his home along with the six-year-old daughter she had given birth to in captivity. DNA testing confirmed that Castro was the father.

Ms Berry's escape was followed by the discovery of Michelle Knight (32) and Gina DeJesus (23) inside the Castro home at 2207 Seymour Avenue. The three had gone missing between 2002 and 2004.

Yesterday, Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including rape and kidnapping.

Wearing a bright orange prison jumpsuit, he said he understood the implications of the plea agreement.

"Do you understand, Mr Castro, that by entering this plea, you will never be released from prison?" the presiding judge, Michael Russo, asked.

"I do understand that," Castro replied. He said he knew that "I was going to get pretty much the book thrown at me".

During the hearing, Castro attempted to elaborate on his background, saying: "My addiction to pornography and my sexual problem has really taken a toll on my mind." But he was interrupted by Judge Russo, who said he could speak during his sentencing hearing.

The deal means Castro's victims will not have to face having to testify during what could have been a lengthy trial process.

Irish Independent

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