WTAM Local News

 

AUDIO: Ariel Castro sent to prison for life

AUDIO: Ariel Castro sent to prison for life

(Cleveland) - The man accused of imprisoning three women in his Cleveland home and subjecting them to rapes and beatings for a decade will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Judge Michael Russo handed down the previously agreed to sentence of life with no parole, plus 1,000 years to Ariel Castro.

Before sentencing, Castro apologized to his victims, but also claimed most of the sex was consensual.

Castro also said he isn't a monster. He says he's sick and addicted to pornography. He says he didn't even plan the first kidnapping.

Castro says he knows what he did was wrong, but that he's not a violent person and that his captives asked for sex and weren't tortured.



The women described horrific conditions in the home, which Castro turned into a jury-rigged prison.

Castro spoke during his sentencing hearing less than a week after pleading guilty last week to 937 counts.

Kidnap victim Michelle Knight addressed Castro, saying she had 11 years of hell, but his hell is just beginning. Knight also said that the only good thing that came from her captivity was her friendship with Gina DeJesus. 

Amanda Berry's sister testified, saying they want to keep their privacy. Beth Serrano said that Berry's main goal now is protecting the daughter she had after being assaulted by Castro.

One of the first police officers on the scene after Amanda Berry escaped and called 911 says Michelle Knight leaped into their arms saying, "You saved us! You saved us!" Officer Barbara Johnson says they seemed pale and she though Knight was a little girl at first. Gina DeJesus seemed shy and afrain to leave.

Dr. Joe Maloney, an ER doctor at MetroHealth Medical Center, testified that all three women showed evidence of physical and mental abuse.

Cleveland Police Detective Andy Harasimchuk testified that Ariel Castro lured all three women into his car because they knew his children. Once he had them inside the house on Seymour Avenue, Castro restrained and began to sexually assault them. Harasimchuk says the assaults continued throughout their captivity.

BCI agent Joshua Barr discussed the gun and chains found in Castro's home. The chains were 99 feet long and weighed 92 lbs.  Castro used the chains to restraint Knight, Berry and DeJesus.

FBI Special Agent Andrew Burke discussed what he saw when he arrived at the scene on Seymour Avenue on May 6. He says the women needed clothing, shoes, a safe house and medical care. Their main focus was safety and security due to nature of the case.

Burke says the huge outpouring of support from around the world allowed for world-class care for the three victims. He also says he'll never forget when he first saw the women whose faces were so familiar.

Burke added, "You can't turn off 10 years of sustained abuse like a light switch." He says Castro would pay women after he'd had sex with them. Then Castro would make the women pay for things they requested from the store.

Burke says going through house was surreal and more than 1,000 photos were taken.

Burke says the house was fortified to keep people away from certain areas, including a porch swing blocking the base of the stairs to the second floor. He says Gina and Michelle shared bed in small room up there. Amanda and her daughter shared an adjoining room. The windows were boarded by heavy doors.

Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Deputy Dave Jacobs then took the stand and said, during interviews, that Castro referred to himself as a "sexual predator" and admitted he abducted the victims.

Jacobs says Castro admitted taking the women to "satisfy his sexual needs". Castro also admitted that he knew what he was doing was wrong. Castro also says he drove past his own daughter to get to Gina DeJesus.

After the sentencing, Mayor Frank Jackson released a statement:

"Today, justice was served for these three brave young women. They are survivors. I hope the sentencing of their captor brings them and their families the closure they need to continue moving forward and healing. I continue to ask the community to respect the privacy of these women as they move forward with their recovery."

The women's escape from Castro's home two months ago at first brought joy to the city where they had become household names after years of searches, publicity and vigils, then despair at revelations of their treatment.

Their rescue brought shocking allegations that Castro fathered a child with one of the women, induced five miscarriages in another by starving and punching her, and assaulted one with a vacuum cord around her neck when she tried to escape.

Castro told the judge he was addicted to pornography, had a "sexual problem" and had been a sexual abuse victim himself long ago.

He pleaded guilty to 937 counts in the deal, which sends him to prison for life without parole, plus 1,000 years. Prosecutors agreed to take a possible death penalty charge off the table.

The women said in a statement they were relieved by the conviction. They previously released a video thanking people for their love and support.



Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight 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.

Castro fathered a 6-year-old daughter with Berry, now 27. 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, now 32, said her five pregnancies ended after Castro starved and repeatedly punched her.

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.


(Photo by Getty Images

McGinty said the county will use more than $20,000 seized from Castro to tear down his house within a month, and two abandoned houses next door will be razed and a vacant lot acquired for a park.

 Get breaking news sent to your mobile phone. Text "news" to 21095.

(Copyright © 2013 by Clear Channel, all rights reserved. Castro/Knight photos by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)

 

More Articles