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Cleveland Kidnapper Ariel Castro Accepts Plea Deal, Avoids Death Penalty

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 26, 2013 3:45PM

Ariel Castro (Mugshot via Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office)

Ariel Castro, the man accused of kidnapping and raping Cleveland women Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, accepted a plea deal Friday that will imprison him for the rest of his life but spare him the death penalty.

Castro pleaded guilty to 937 of the 977 charges against him and will be behind bars for life without parole, plus a minimum of 1,000 years. The guilty plea included admission Castro forced one of the women to miscarry. A murder charge stemming from that miscarriage could have earned Castro the death penalty if he was found guilty of it at a trial. Berry, DeJesus and Knight were held captive for nearly a decade in the basement of Castro’s home, bound by straps and chains for periods of time, and were routinely raped, beaten and starved. Berry has a 6-year-old daughter fathered by Castro. The three women and Berry's daughter were discovered in Castro's home in May after Berry escaped and ran to neighbor Charles Ramsey for help.

Castro told Cuyahoga County Court Judge Michael Russo he understood the charges and the plea deal. "I knew I was pretty much going to get the book thrown at me,” he said. Castro added he was a victim of his own sexual problems and blamed his actions on “an addiction to pornography and my sexual problem” before Russo cut him off.

Castro's home will be turned over to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and will be torn down as part of the plea deal.

All Chicagoist coverage on Ariel Castro and the Cleveland kidnapping story.