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Trial Avoided: Castro Accepts Plea Deal


CLEVELAND — Life without parole plus 1,000 years is the sentence recommendation for a man who held three women captive for 10 years.

For the first time since his arrest, Castro appeared in court wearing glasses Friday morning. He kept his head up during the hearing and answered Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Russo’s questions.

He pleaded guilty to hundreds of charges Friday morning and told the judge he understood the charges. He said he had an addiction to pornography.

Castro said, “My addiction to pornography has really taken a toll on my mind.”

During today’s hearing, Castro revealed he graduated from Lincoln West High School when the judge asked about his education. He told Judge Russo he moved to Cleveland in 1972.

Castro, 53, admitted to kidnapping and raping three women repeatedly for a decade.

The three women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight and Berry’s child, whom Castro fathered during her captivity, escaped in May.

The plea deal spares the victims from having to testify. Castro said in court that he knew the “book would be thrown” at him.

He also said several times he knew he would not be eligible for parole and would spend the rest of his life locked up.

Prosecutors also filed a motion to amend the indictment, saying they would not seize certain property belonging to Castro, including four motorcycles, three vehicles and a pension, possibly so those items could be given to his family.

That motion was granted.

Castro’s house and about $22,000 will be forfeited.  Photo albums, clothing and certain approved belongings will be given to his family.

Defense attorney says Castro did not want the women to have to testify and that the plea brought a sense of relief to his client.

When asked if he had any questions, Castro said, “No, but I would like to state that I was also a victim as a child, and it just kept going.” Judge Russo said he may bring that up during sentencing.

Sentencing for Ariel Castro is set for Aug. 1.

Click here to read more about the case …

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:43 pm

Both sides are expected to make statements shortly. Stay tuned to Fox 8 News and FOX8.com.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:36 pm

Castro leaves court.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:35 pm

Plea agreement will be placed into record.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:34 pm

Judge thanks parties for their professionalism and diligence in reaching a resolution.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:34 pm

Judge tells Castro he has the right to speak at his sentencing. Others may speak on his behalf.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:34 pm

Prosecutor will contact victims to let them know they are permitted to speak live at the sentencing or via video. They may also send a letter to be read.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:33 pm

Court accepts plea, finds defendant guilty. Judge sets sentencing for Aug. 1 at 9 a.m.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:32 pm

Original indictment is dismissed.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:31 pm

Judge reviews counts that will be dismissed.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:30 pm

Both sides say they are satisfied.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:29 pm

Judge: Court finds Mr. Castro guilty in this matter on all counts and all specifications for which he has plead guilty.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:29 pm

Court finds Castro understands offenses and maximum penalties and that he is not eligible for parole.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:28 pm

“I would like to state that I miss my daughter very much,” Castro says when the judge asks if he has any questions.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:27 pm

Castro pleads guilty to possessing criminal tools.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:26 pm

Defense brings up a duplicated charge. Judge thanks the defense for its “careful reading.”

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:25 pm

Castro pleads guilty to endangering children.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:25 pm

Castro pleads guilty to gross sexual imposition.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:24 pm

Castro pleads guilty to felonious assault with a pregnant victim specification and sexually violent predator specification.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:23 pm

Castro pleads guilty to felonious assault.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:19 pm

It’s determined to be another typo.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:17 pm

As judge reads counts, he says, “This doesn’t make sense again,” referring to another issue he noticed.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:14 pm

An amended document will be prepared to fix typographic errors. Renumbering is needed.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:13 pm

Court reconvenes. Castro reenters.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201312:02 pm

During the break, Fox 8’s Bill Sheil discusses the case. Watch his analysis here:

http://fox8.com/live-stream-b/

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:56 am

Judge announces a 10 minute break so the issue can be looked over.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:56 am

Defense attorney says that something “looked wrong” when judge was reading. Determines rape charges ended up in the kidnapping section.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:50 am

Castro pleads guilty to kidnapping.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:50 am

Castro pleads guilty to additional charges of rape.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:46 am

Castro pleads guilty to sexually violent predator specifications in those counts.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:46 am

Castro pleads guilty to charges of rape with sexually violent predator specifications.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:44 am

Castro pleads guilty to count two of aggravated murder. Says, “I will plead guilty because of the plea deal.”

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:43 am

Castro says he understands he’ll never leave prison alive.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:43 am

Castro pleads guilty to sexual motivation specification.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:42 am

Castro pleads guilty to count one of aggravated murder.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:41 am

Castro says he “doesn’t care for the wording,” but agrees to plead guilty.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:41 am

Judge explains Castro will be giving up future challenges and any rights to appeal.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:40 am

Judge talks about house demolition. Defense says some additional items (other than photo albums and clothes) will be released to family.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:39 am

Judge says he’ll be sentencing Castro to additional time of 1,000 years on top of life in prison.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:37 am

Both sides say they are satisfied with what has been outlined in court.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:36 am

“No, not right now,” Castro says when the judge asks if he has any questions. Castro and his attorneys whisper for a moment.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:33 am

Judge continues to outline penalties for each offense.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:21 am

As he answers the judge’s questions, Castro speaks notably louder and clearer than he has at past hearings.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:19 am

“I knew that when I spoke to the FBI agents when I first got arrested,” Castro said, acknowledging that he understands he’ll never be released from prison.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:17 am

Judge: For rape charges, you could also be required to pay restitution to the victims, is that clear?
Castro: Yes it is.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:15 am

Judge: A fine may also be imposed for each count.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:15 am

Judge reminds Castro the only sentence is life without prison without the possibility of parole.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:13 am

Judge asks if Castro understands allegation that he caused Michelle Knight to miscarry. Castro says he does.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:12 am

Judge asks if Castro has any questions on charges as outlined in the book in front of him.
Castro does not.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:08 am

Castro says he is satisfied with the representation he has received, but says he hasn’t received information on inventory. Attorneys say they’ll get that to him.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:06 am

Judge asks if Castro has any questions. Castro says, “No, but I would like to state that I was also a victim as a child, and it just kept going.” Judge says he may bring that up during sentencing.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:05 am

Prosecution said when house is torn down everything will be looked at.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:04 am

Family photo albums and clothing will be given to Castro’s family.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:04 am

Judge says $22,268.82 will be forfeited. Castro says he had more money than that. Judge says that will be looked into.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:02 am

Castro will be forfeiting items to the state as set forth in plea agreement.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201311:01 am

Castro agrees to turn house over to county land bank.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:59 am

Castro: “My addiction to pornography has really taken a toll on my mind.”

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:59 am

Castro says he is an American citizen. He moved to Cleveland area in 1972.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:58 am

Judge asks about medications. Castro says he takes something for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and aspirin. Adds that an allergy medicine would have made him drowsy so he stopped taking it.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:57 am

Castro says he graduated from Lincoln West High School when judge asked about his education.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:57 am

Judge: Do you understand that you are waiving your right to a jury trial?
Castro: I do, your Honor.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:55 am

Judge says even though Castro won’t be getting out of prison, he must still understand reporting requirements for sexual offenders.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:53 am

Judge: I have to be sure that you understand your rights, potential charges, potential penalties and what ultimately will happen with you.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:52 am

Judge asks if Castro has any questions.

He answers, “Not right now,” says he puts trust in his lawyers. Says there are things he doesn’t understand because of his “sexual problems.”

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:50 am

Castro says he knew the “book would be thrown” at him.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:50 am

Judge: Upon entering this plea, you will never be released from prison.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:49 am

Judge asks if Castro understands he will be in prison until death. Castro says yes.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:48 am

“When I first got arrested and interviewed I said I was willing to work with the FBI and I would tell them everything,” Castro says.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:48 am

“As Mr. Castro has indicated, he has had ample time to review the written plea agreement as well as discuss the contents,” defense says, adding Castro will withdraw previous not guilty pleas and enter guilty pleas.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:46 am

Prosecution says the only sentence available is life without parole, and that Castro understands he will never be eligible for parole.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:45 am

Parties have agreed to a negotiated recommended sentence.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:44 am

Castro says he consents to the plea deal.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:43 am

Judge asks Castro if he consents to the plea agreement.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:42 am

Judge asks if Castro received document outlining plea deal. Castro says, “Yes, it’s in front of me.” Castro says he had it since 11 a.m. Thursday.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:41 am

Judge: Mr. Castro, have you had a chance to read and review the newer indictment?
Castro: Yes I have.
Judge: Have you had a chance to discuss that with counsel?
Castro: Yes, numerous times.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:40 am

Judge tells Castro each side has agreed to give up certain things in consideration of a plea deal. Castro says he understands.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:39 am

Judge asks if witnesses lists have been exchanged as if the case were going to trial. Both sides say yes.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:38 am

Judge talks about discoveries in case. Prosecution says defense had complete access to them. Defense says there are no discovery issues that are presently in dispute.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:36 am

Castro sitting among the attorneys.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:36 am

“Mr. Castro, you’ve received your glasses now, is it better?” judge asks.
Castro says yes.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:35 am

Motion to amend indictment granted.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:35 am

Judge brings up motion filed by the state to amend indictment concerning Castro’s motorcycles, cars and pension.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:33 am

Ariel Castro enters court wearing glasses.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:23 am

Attorneys enter the courtroom.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:21 am

An announcement is made that there are no “in and out” privileges in court. Once you leave the courtroom, you may not reenter.

Jessica Dabrowski July 26, 201310:06 am

A reminder is given for all cell phone ringers to be turned off.