Accused Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro won't get the death penalty for kidnapping and aggravated murder charges.
CLEVELAND — The man accused of abducting and raping three women and holding them captive for years appeared in a Cleveland court on Friday and accepted a plea deal, allowing him to avoid the death penalty, The Associated Press reports.
Plea deal for Ariel Castro to avoid death penalty
As part of the deal, Ariel Castro will be sentenced to life plus 1,000 years in prison and will not be eligible for parole, according to CNN. He pleaded guilty to 937 charges.
Asked if he understood he would never be released from prison, Castro said, "I do understand that, your honor," the AP reported.
He added, "I knew I was pretty much going to get the book thrown at me."
Castro was far more interactive than in previous court appearances, when he mostly kept his head down and eyes closed, the AP said. He said a pornography addiction and "sexual problem" have taken a toll on his mind. He also said he was sexually abused as a child.
According to the AP, the deal comes more than a month after a statement issued on behalf of the three women said they were "hopeful for a just and prompt resolution" and had "great faith in the prosecutor's office and the court."
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, Reuters reported.
Castro, 53, had been charged with 977 counts, including kidnapping and repeated rape. He had also been charged with murder under a fetal homicide law for allegedly forcing one of the women to miscarry. The murder charge carried the death penalty.
Gina DeJesus, 23, Michelle Knight, 32, and Amanda Berry, 27, were freed from Castro's home in a rundown area of Cleveland on May 6. Also freed was a 6-year-old girl who, according to DNA evidence, was fathered by Castro with Berry during her captivity.
According to the AP, a statement was released Friday by a law firm representing the women says they are satisfied by the resolution and looking forward to the end of the legal end of the case.
The women had been bound for periods of time in chains or ropes and endured starvation, beatings and sexual assaults, according to court documents and a police report. None of Castro's family or the victims attended the hearing. There was no immediate comment from the victims. Avoiding a trial spares them from having to testify, Reuters said.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report
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