Cleveland kidnapping suspect pleads guilty; Life plus at least 1,000 years


by CBS News / Associated Press

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 26 at 4:34 PM

(CBS/AP) -- Ariel Castro, the Ohio man accused of kidnapping three women and holding them captive in his Cleveland home for about a decade, has accepted a plea deal that could spare him from the death penalty.

Castro faced 977 charges including rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder stemming from the death of an unborn child of one of the victims. An amended indictment includes 937 charges, an attorney said. 

In court Friday, an attorney for Castro asked to enter guilty pleas. The terms of the deal offered by prosecutors calls for no death penalty with a recommended sentence of life without parole plus an additional 1,000 years, attorneys said in court.

Answering questions from the judge, Castro said he understands the deal means he will never be released from prison.

"I knew I was going to get pretty much the book thrown at me," Castro said.

The deal also spares the victims in the case from testifying, CBS affiliate WOIO reports.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight were found in Castro's Cleveland home in May after Berry kicked in a screen door and yelled to a neighbor for help. Berry, Dejesus and Knight disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004. Each said they had accepted a ride from Castro, who remained friends with Dejesus' family and even attended vigils over the years marking her disappearance.

Besides kidnapping and rape, 977-count indictment charged Castro him with seven counts of gross sexual imposition, six counts of felonious assault, three counts of child endangerment and one count of possessing criminal tools.

Castro is accused of repeatedly restraining the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van. The charges say one of the women tried to escape and he assaulted her with a vacuum cord around her neck.


Castro has been held on $8 million bail. A trial date had been set for August.