- (Photo: Reuters/John Gress)
Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him in connection with the 937 charges of kidnapping and rapes of three women in Ohio. The victims will not have to testify against Castro, and he will immediately begin serving his life-long sentence.
He agreed to a plea deal that saw him receive a life sentence and, in addition, 1,000 years behind bars for his crimes. In exchange, Castro will not receive the death penalty and his three victims: Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus will not have to testify at a trial.
The women were held hostage for 10 years and repeatedly raped and abused by Castro. Berry led the escape from the home by getting to the front door and yelling for help. Thankfully a neighbor heard her cries and helped break down the door and release Berry and the other hostages.
"I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of a house," Charles Ramsey told CNN. "I go on the porch and she says, 'Help me get out. I've been in here a long time. Call 911, my name is Amanda Berry.'"
Officers responded and took all the women to a local hospital for evaluation. They were eventually reunited with their loved ones, who were grateful they were found alive. Castro was immediately arrested and the charges began to pile up as the victims told their horror stories.
Castro initially pleaded not guilty to the crimes, but prosecutors were able to talk him and his lawyers into accepting the deal that would prevent him from the death penalty and bring a sense of closure to his victims, without causing them further trauma from testifying.
The women released a video earlier this month, thanking people for their care and concern during their recovery.
"I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing," Berry said in the video. "I'm getting stronger each day."