At the sentencing hearing Thursday in Cleveland, Ariel Castro made a rambling statement, and Michelle Knight delivered a victim impact statement. Amanda Berry was represented in court by her sister.
[Updated 3:30 p.m. EDT] Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who kidnapped three women and then imprisoned and tortured them in his home for a decade, was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole, plus 1,000 years.
Last Friday, Mr. Castro accepted a plea agreement that spares him the death penalty. He pleaded guilty to 937 criminal counts of kidnapping, rape, and assault, among other charges. The women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004 and were rescued in early May.
“There is no place in this city, no place in this country, nowhere in this world for those who enslave or assault others,” Judge Michael Russo told Castro.
The sentencing followed a rambling, nearly 20-minute testimonial from Castro, who apologized for his actions but insisted they resulted from sexual abuse in his childhood. He said he was subsequently addicted to pornography, which he suggested warped his ability to control his behavior.
“I’m sick. My sexual problems have been so bad on my mind that I’ve become impulsive,” he said.
While Michelle Knight, one of the three women, sat not far behind him in the courtroom, Castro denied beating the women. He described his household as one of “harmony” and said he was trying to maintain “a normal family.” He added that all the sex with the women was consensual and that “many times, the women would ask me for sex – many times.”
“I’m not trying to make excuses,” he said. “I know I’m 100 percent wrong. But they’re trying to say I’m a violent person. I’m not a violent person.”
Judge Russo responded to Castro’s statement by suggesting he did not understand the nature of his crimes. “You say you had a happy household, but I’m not sure there is anyone in America who would agree with you. You have extreme narcissism, and it seems rather pervasive,” he said.
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