A man has pleaded guilty to holding three young women captive in his Ohio home for a decade, agreeing to spend the rest of his life in prison, plus 1,000 years, in exchange for prosecutors dropping the threat of a death sentence.
Former school bus driver Ariel Castro appeared in a Cleveland court Friday wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and a newly grown beard. He pleaded guilty to 937 charges, including hundreds of allegations that he abducted the women, shackled and repeatedly raped them until one of them escaped in early May and police freed the other two.
Castro, 53, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in the case, for beating one of the women so severely after impregnating her that she miscarried. One of the women bore a daughter by Castro during her captivity. The girl is now six years old.
In previous court appearances, Castro kept his head bowed and did not make eye contact with the judge or his lawyers. But as he pleaded guilty, he answered numerous questions from the judge hearing the case, and said that when he was arrested, he knew what he faced.
"I knew I was pretty much going to get the book thrown at me," he said.
He added that there were some parts of the case he did not understand because of "my sexual problem."
None of the three women abducted from 2002 to 2004 – Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight – attended the court hearing. They recently released a video thanking Cleveland residents for their support during the ordeal.
The judge said Castro would be formally sentenced next week.