Judge sentences Ariel Castro to life plus 1,000 years

1:55 PM, Aug 1, 2013   |    comments
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Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight found alive

Complete Coverage - Click Here

Crime & Punishment: Castro Sentenced

The Evidence: Prosecutor's Case Photos (PDF)

Survivor Speaks: “Your hell is only beginning”

Turning the Tables: Castro hears from survivors in court

Castro Speaks: “I’m not a monster”

Word Cloud: Castro’s statement

Read: Castro’s Statement

Inside the House: FBI says house became a cage

Photos: Castro evidence

Photos: See Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus pictures

Photos: Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry come home

Photos: Ariel Castro in court

Photos: Decade in isolation

The house: Photos show backyard at Castro’s house

The deal:  Castro’s plea agreement

Son speaks: Ariel Castro's son says dad's punishment fits

Enjoying freedom: Amanda Berry makes surprise public appearance

 Families approve deal: Families pleased with Castro plea deal

 Justice served: Prosecutor says Castro plea deal is justice

 Reign of terror ends: Ariel Castro pleads guilty

 House’s future: Castro home headed for wrecking ball?

 Viral Video: Amanda, Gina and Michelle release thank-you video

Judge denies request: Castro denied request to see Amanda Berry’s child

Look up: Judge orders Castro to open his eyes in court 




Psychic responds: Sylvia Browne makes statement on Amanda Berry case

Officer’s story: Police recount finding Amanda, Gina, and Michelle

Investigator: How Castro spends his time behind bars

Investigator: Castro says he loves his daughter

911 Call: Help me I'm Amanda Berry

Dispatch tapes: "We found them!"

How to help: Charitable fund set up for missing girls

Police audio: Police audio reveals how officers found women

DeJesus homecoming: Gina gives a thumbs up

Amanda Berry homecoming: Family thanks community

Charles Ramsey: Neighbor tells how he helped rescue Amanda Berry

Charles Ramsey: Listen to 911 call that led to Amanda Berry rescue

Police: Amanda is the real hero here




CLEVELAND --  Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Russo has sentenced Ariel Castro to life in prison without parole plus an additional 1,000 years.

Judge Russo also ordered Castro to have no contact with any of the victims.

Castro interrupted the judge and asked if that included Amanda Berry's daughter.

The judge told him the no-contact order included the child because she was also a victim.

"There is no place in this community, this country or this world for people who enslave others," Judge Russo admonished Castro.

Cleveland 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 exchange at the end of sentencing capped an emotional sentencing hearing that also brought one of the women face to face with her former captor.

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus spoke through family members who read written statements.

Michelle Knight, however, chose to face Castro in court.

PHOTOS | Ariel Castro sentencing evidence takes us inside his Seymour Avenue home

She told the court and Castro: "I was so alone. I worried about what would happen to me and the other girls every day. ... Years turned into eternity. He told me, my family didn't care about me. ... No one should ever have to go through what I went through. Gina was my teammate. .... My friendship with her is the only thing good to come out of this situation. ... We said one day we would make it out alive and we did. .... I spent 11 years in hell, your hell is just beginning. ... From this moment, I will not let you define me. .... I will live on, you will die a little every day. ... The death penalty would be easier [for Castro.]

Castro then made a long, rambling statement.  During the 20-minute statement he said, "I am not a monster.  I'm sick."  He claimed to be a childhood victim of sex abuse and have an addiction to porn.  He told the court, "I'm not a violent person."  He claimed the sex inside the house was consensual and said he never tortured the women.

PHOTOS | Ariel Castro in court

Earlier, the prosecution presented a series of witnesses detailing the time the women spent in captivity and what they were subjected to during their time as hostages on Seymour Avenue.

Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Deputy Dave Jacobs testified about his interviews with Ariel Castro. He says he was forthcoming during the questioning. He says Castro used the term abduction to refer how he took the girls and referred to himself as a sexual offender.

Asked why he abducted young girls, Castro says it was to satisfy his sexual needs. Castro characterized himself as a criminal and knew what he was doing was wrong.

When asked about a gun in his possession, Castro said he showed the gun to the victims as a form of control. The women claim he used it to play Russian Roulette. Castro said he didn't recall that but said if the women said it happened, it happened.

On the day of Gina's abduction, Castro told police, "I did a cold-blooded thing. I drove past my daughter to get to Gina."

Earlier, FBI Special Agent Andrew Burke took the stand and went through a series of photographs that showed the world, for the first time, inside the Seymour Avenue house that served as a cage for the three women for a decade.

Burke testified about how the home had been cordoned and blocked off using heavy curtain and sheets which also kept the home dark. He said furniture was used to block passageway through the house and that the house was rigged with a series of alarm clocks used as an alert system to keep the fame from escaping.

The prosecution showed photos of the room where Amanda Berry and her daughter were kept. The room's windows were boarded shut and a hole cut in the door for ventilation. Numerous stuffed animals could be seen in the room.

Another photo showed an adjoining room where Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus were kept. This room also had the windows boarded up.

He says the images of the women today are in stark contrast to the way they appeared on May 6. He comments on the amazing recovery the three survivors have made in just three months.

The first witness to take the stand was Patrolwoman Barbara Jordan. She was one of the first responders to arrive at 2207 Seymour Avenue the night of May 6.

She talked about how dark the home was and described a dark, heavy curtain that was stretched across the top of the stairs.

Patrolwoman Jordan told the court about finding Gina DeJesus and how thin and tiny she was, so much so, Patrolwoman Jordan thought it was a small child. She testified about Amanda Berry telling her about the birth of her daughter inside a pool inside the home and how neither received medical treatment.

Dr. Gerald Maloney an Emergency Room doctor from Metro then testified about the condition of the women on the night of May 6. He described the women as distraught and that all the women told doctors they had been held against their will for years and sexually assaulted.

Det. Andy Harasimchuk with the CPD Sex Crimes Unit testified next about the initial interviews with the three women. In each case, the survivors told police how they were lured into Ariel Castro's home or car.

In Michelle Knight's case she was looking for directions in a story when Ariel Castro promised to help. He lured her into his house with a promise of a puppy for her son. She was immediately restrained with an electrical cord. Hours later she was chained in the basement, a motorcycle helmet placed on her head and sexually assaulted.

Amanda Berry told police that while walking home from work on the night she disappeared a van, driven by Castro, passed her.

Amanda said she smiled because she thought she recognized someone. The van turned around and Castro asked if she wanted a ride. Amanda knew his son and daughter. At the house, Amanda asked to be taken home and threatened to call police.

When Castro refused, she tried to run away. The house was dark and Amanda instead ran into a closet. She was restrained and sexually assaulted. Investigators say she too was taken to the basement and chained there.

Gina DeJesus disappeared on the way home from school. Castro lured her to the house with a promise of seeing his daughter. Gina became uncomfortable in the home and asked to be taken home.

PHOTOS | Ariel Castro sentencing evidence

EXPANDED COVERAGE | Ariel Castro case

Today's hearing is expected to last for several hours as both Castro and the victims will have the right to speak.

Follow @WKYC on Twitter for complete updates throughout the day. 


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