Castro defense team: Goal was to defeat the death penalty

6:34 PM, Jul 26, 2013   |    comments
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  • CLEVELAND -- One of Ariel Castro's defense attorneys talked to the media after Friday's plea hearing and said the only goal in negotiations was to have their client's life spared.

    "There was nothing to try to defeat other than the death penalty. That was the goal. He was with us 100%," said defense attorney Craig Weintraub following the hearing.

    The prosecutors and defense have recommended to the judge a sentence of life in prison without parole plus 1,000 years.

    During the hearing, while pleading guilty to more than 900 charges, Castro repeatedly told the judge he didn't like the wording but entered the plea anyway. Weintraub said Castro specifically didn't like the phrase "sexually violent predator." Castro pleaded guilty to hundreds of counts of rape as part of the deal.

    The plea deal not only spares Castro the death penalty but also ensures that Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight do not have to take the stand to testify about the decade-long captivity spent in Castro's Seymour Avenue house.

    The women were rescued on May 6 after Berry broke free and ran for help.

    "As far as I'm concerned we did what he had to do and now there's finality," said Weintraub.

    Castro will be sentenced on August 1.

    He may speak on his own behalf at the hearing.

    The survivors will also have the chance to be heard.  They do not have to appear in court if they do not wish.  The judge says a spokesperson can speak on their behalf or they can submit a letter to be read or video to be played in court. 

    A law firm handling affairs for the women released a statement for them today saying they were pleased with the plea.

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