Ariel Castro sentenced to life in prison plus 1000 years

By Kristen Butler,

"A person can only die in prison once," Judge Michael Russo told Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro Thursday as he handed down a sentence of life in prison plus 1,000 years.

Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including murder and kidnapping, after holding Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight captive as "slaves" for more than a decade.


Castro's sentence is mostly in 8- to 10-year consecutive blocks, and Russo said he "will never be released from incarceration during the period of his remaining natural life for any reason."

Though the sentence has been decided, the testimony process is ongoing. The defense did not want anything but the victims' impact statements introduced for sentencing, but Russo agreed with the prosecution to ensure records to support Castro's sentence, should he ever appeal.

During his statement, Castro said, "I'm not a violent person. I simply kept them there so they couldn't leave." He claims his porn addiction led him to hold the women captive and violently assault them.

"I'm not a monster. I'm just sick," Castro said. "I have an addiction. Just like an alcoholic has an addiction."

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Gregory Saathoff said that although "the scope and magnitude of Ariel Castro's crimes is unprecedented," an examination of the defendant showed "no psychiatric illness whatsoever."


Police officers testified that Castro repeatedly stated that what he did was wrong, and a crime, and seemed rationally aware of that fact. The prosecution argued Castro had not shown any remorse, though he did ask his victims' forgiveness during the hearing, and said he is "truly sorry."

Knight addressed Castro during her impact statement, saying, "You took 11 years of my life away. ... I spent 11 years in hell. Now, your hell is just beginning."

Family members spoke on behalf of DeJesus and Berry. According to her sister, Berry doesn't wish to speak about the case in order to protect her daughter -- fathered by Castro -- from the details.

Three diaries kept by the women during their captivity recount many of Castro's crimes. Psychiatrist Frank Ochberg, a pioneer in trauma science, described for the court the effects of the repeated rapes, beatings, and mental manipulation on the three victims over such a long period.

Judge Russo found that Ariel Castro fits the definition of a violent sexual predator.

"You don't deserve to be out in our community," he said. "You're too dangerous."

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