Castro pleaded guilty last week to 937 counts including aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape and assault. Photograph: Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters
News Americas, CLEVELAND, OHIO, Fri. Aug. 2, 2013: The Puerto Rican-born, Ohio man who kidnapped and tortured three young women for 11 years insists he is no monster.
“I’m not a monster, I’m a normal person, I am just sick, I have an addiction,” he told a judge on Thursday even though he admitted guilt in more than 900 charges, including kidnapping and rape.
He offered no remorse for his actions, telling Judge Michael Russo that there was “harmony” in the home and blaming his actions on sexual abused as a child and an addition to pornography.
But Judge Russo dismissed the claims and instead sentenced Castro to life imprisonment without parole plus 1,000 years.
Earlier one of the victims, Michelle Knight, told the perpetrator he would “face hell for eternity.”
Knight, giving her victim impact statement before her abuser, told him that her life was just beginning while his was now over.
You took 11 years of my life away and I have got it back. I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all that has happened, but you will face hell for eternity.”
She said she had cried every night and that her years in captivity had “turned into eternity.” Knight told prosecutors that she became pregnant five times but was starved and beaten up by Castro so she would miscarry.
She was the only one of the victims to speak at the hearing. Relatives of the other two women – Amanda Berry and Georgina DeJesus – read statements on their behalf.
Law enforcement agents also told the court on Thursday that Castro played Russian roulette with his victims, keeping them chained and repeatedly raping them.
Andrew Burke, an FBI agent, said Castro turned his home into a prison by creating a makeshift alarm system and chaining the women inside bolted bedrooms.
Bedroom windows were boarded shut from the inside with heavy cupboard doors, and door knobs were removed and replaced with multiple locks, he said. The house was split so as to make it more secure and hide the existence of rooms.
Burke also said Castro would occasionally pay his victims after raping them. But he then made them pay him if they wanted something special from the store.
Dave Jacobs, a detective, said he talked to Castro a few days after the women escaped and claimed the accused said, “I knew what I did was wrong.”
The court also heard testimony from Barbara Johnson, a police officer who helped locate the women in the house. She said one of the captives launched herself into an officer’s arms, and another was initially too afraid to leave her room.
The officer added that all three women were frightened even after being taken out of the house. But they soon began sharing details on the horrors they had endured, including being starved and beaten, the officer said.
Andrew Harasimchuk, a detective, said the women spoke of a pattern of physical, sexual and emotional assaults over the years. He said they had been abducted after Castro offered them a ride and that each was chained in his basement and sexually assaulted within a few hours of being kidnapped.