Castro accepts plea deal to avoid death penalty, prosecutors recommend sentence of life without parole


(CBS/AP) — Ariel Castro, the Ohio man accused of kidnapping three women and holding them captive in his Cleveland home for about a decade, has accepted a plea deal that will spare him from the death penalty.

Castro faced 977 charges including rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder stemming from the death of an unborn child of one of the victims. An amended indictment includes 937 charges, an attorney said.

The terms of the deal offered by prosecutors call for no death penalty with a recommended sentence of life without parole plus an additional 1,000 years, attorneys said in court. A judge must decide whether to accept the sentence.

Castro pleaded guilty to numerous charges including aggravated murder, rape and kidnapping as the judge, Michael Russo, read through the indictment.

“Because of the plea deal, I will plead guilty,” Castro replied, as Russo asked how he would plead to an aggravated murder count.

Castro appeared in court wearing glasses and an orange prison jumpsuit, sitting up in his chair and looking behind him into the courtroom before the hearing. The 53-year-old spoke in court as he answered questions from the judge, saying that he understands he is waiving his right to a trial in the case.

Castro also said he understood the deal means he will never be released from prison.

“I knew I was going to get pretty much the book thrown at me,” Castro said. He said he was “fully aware” of the terms of the plea agreement and consented to it, adding, “There are some things I don’t understand…because of my sexual problem.”

Russo asked Castro whether he understood several of the charges against him included a “sexually violent predator” specification, a classification that mandates a sentence of life without parole on an aggravated murder charge.

“The violent part I don’t agree on, but yes,” Castro said.

Castro repeatedly said that he didn’t “care for the wording” of the sexually violent predator specification, but agreed to plead guilty to the charges nonetheless.

The deal also spares the victims in the case from testifying.

(Source: CBS News, July 26, 2013)

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