In some cases, avoiding the death penalty represents the best outcome. Such is the case with the now-notorious Cleveland man Ariel Castro.
An unemployed bus driver, Castro kidnapped and confined three women for more than a decade, beating, raping and traumatizing them in turn. The first woman abducted, 31-year-old Michelle Knight, stated she spent “11 years in hell.” Castro also held Georgina DeJesus and Amanda Berry, with whom he fathered a child in captivity.
In an effort to avoid a possible death sentence, Castro pled guilty to 937 criminal counts, including kidnapping and murder. The sentencing memorandum revealed details of the ordeal of the three women, including:
Castro renovated his 1,400-square-foot home to create a secret prison in which to hold the women. The victims were chained to objects within the house and in the basement.
Showing no remorse for his crimes, Castro attended vigils for the victims through the years they were missing, sometimes speaking with their parents. Forensic experts described the ordeal of his victims as “complete and comprehensive captivity.”
Although he claimed to be mentally ill, psychiatric examination of Castro found no evidence to support his claim. Castro stated: “I’m not a violent person. I simply kept them there so they couldn’t leave.”
Judge Michael Russo described Castro as a “violent sexual predator.” In sentencing him to life in prison plus 1,000 years, the judge noted there was no place in the world for a criminal like Castro. In a twist of irony, Castro recently committed suicide while in prison. The incident is currently under investigation.
Although they survived their ordeal, all three victims must now reorient themselves to a life outside of captivity.