November 24, 2014


Ariel Castro takes plea deal, will serve life in prison

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive in his home for about a decade agreed to plead guilty Friday in a deal to avoid the death penalty.

In exchange, Ariel Castro would be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years, prosecutors said.

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, 53, had been scheduled for trial Aug. 5 on a 977-count indictment. 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 Cuyahoga County prosecutor had kept that issue under review.

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. They otherwise have sought to stay out of sight and have appealed for privacy.

  • mark krick

    Are you kidding me? I hate our justice system! What one gets in Texas or Cal, in ohio its different. We should be one as a nation one justice system, one sentence. The Justice system in this situation is why out of line. Those women and that baby paid the price and this man gets to sit in the system for life! And at our expense. Why was he even given a plea bargain? Everything is clear in black and white. He is guilty through DNA. There is no reason for a plea deal. Why so we can study him. No justice needs to prevail and he needs to pay for these hideous crimes to society.

    • Stan K

      Educate yourself,he would have spent at least 14 years on death row costing us way more with the appeals process.Life with no parole is worse than death,especially locked down for 23hrs a day.Not to mention those girls would have had to live that nightmare all over again.Justice is served case closed.

  • grannyof6

    This POS isn’t going to lose his “PERS” or “STERS” pension, that’s BS! We the taxpayer’s will be paying for him till he dies. Are his wonderful defense attorney’s going to collect his pension for him or is the State of Ohio going to direct deposit it into his prison spending account. His pension should go to that little girl he produced with Amanda Berry. This justice system is so screwed up!

  • Heath J

    I thought that plea bargains were the last resort when they didn’t have quite enough evidence for the slam dunk, but enough to convict on a lesser charge?

    Dunno, but I’d really hoped to see him dead, even with the years of appeals and their cost. Justice delayed= Justice denied. Basically, same thing as that Nazi, John Demjanjuk. It doesn’t matter how long ago he committed his crimes, only that he gets to pay for them

  • KZ14

    Now there’s room for him now that Ron Post is gone. What a coward of a man and what a bunch of crap from our justice system.