CLEVELAND (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Ohio man convicted of holding three women captive in his Cleveland house over a decade and raping them repeatedly has been sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years.
Ariel Castro, 53, spoke before he was sentenced Thursday. He had pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape and assault.
A plea deal struck last week spared him from a possible death sentence for beating and starving a pregnant victim until she miscarried.
The women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old, respectively.
They escaped to freedom May 6 when one of them, Amanda Berry, broke out part of the door to Castro’s house and yelled to neighbors for help.
One of Castro’s victims, Michelle Knight, addressed Castro during his sentencing and gave an emotional victim impact statement.
Knight, 32, was the first woman abducted by Castro, CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported.
She recounted years of uncertainty as she faced her kidnapper in court.
“I wondered about what would happen to me and the girls every day,” she said, “I missed my son every day, worried if I’d ever see my son again. He was 2 1/2 years old when I was taken. I look inside my heart and I see my son. I cried every night.”
“Days never got shorter. Days turned into nights, nights turned into days — years turned into eternity,” Knight said.
For Knight, the experience was hell.
“I remember when you came home and talked about everything, everyone else did wrong and you said ‘at least I didn’t kill you,'” she said.
“Nobody should ever have to go through what I went through, or anybody else — not ever your worst enemy. You took 11 years of my life away and I have got it back,. I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning.”
Victim Amanda Berry, 27, did not appear in court and was instead represented by her sister.
“She is strong and beautiful inside and out, and is doing better every day,” she said. “The main reason she does not want anyone to talk about these things, or be forced to talk about these things, is because she has a daughter. She would like to be the person who decides what to tell her daughter, when to tell her daughter, and how to tell her daughter certain things.”
A third victim, Gina DeJesus, was represented by her cousin in court on Thursday.
“Today is the last day we want to talk about this. These events will not own a place in our hearts. We will continue to live and love,” she said.
Castro offered a rambling and at times defiant statement and apologized to his victims, insisting that he is not a violent person.
“I’m not trying to make excuses here. I’m just saying…they’re trying to say I’m a violent person and I’m not a violent person,” Castro said. “These people painted me as a monster. I’m not a monster, I’m sick.”
Castro blamed his crimes on an addiction to masturbation and pornography, but told the court that his victims engaged in consensual sex with him.
“Most of the sex that went on in the house was consensual,” he said.
Judge Michael Russo dismissed Castro’s claims that the women lived a happy life with him.
“I’m not sure there’s anyone in America that would agree with you,” he said.
As Castro was led away, Knight watched, smiling.
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