Cuyahoga County

Ariel Castro sentenced to life plus 1,000 years

August 1, 2013

CLEVELAND – Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Russo has sentenced Ariel Castro to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus an additional 1,000 years .The sentencing came just 87 days after three women who been held prisoner for up to 11 years were freed from his home on Cleveland’s Near West Side.

“This is a great day for the people of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County,’’ Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said after the sentencing hearing. “The nightmare on Seymour Avenue is officially over.”

Russo imposed the penalty proposed in a plea deal signed on July 26. Castro plead guilty to 937 counts, including two of aggravated murder. At the sentencing hearing, the prosecution moved to merge them into a single count.

In order to establish a record that could support the extraordinary punishment, Assistant County Prosecutors Blaise Thomas, Anna Faraglia, Adrienne Linnick and Maxwell Martin called law enforcement offers and medical experts to testify at the sentencing hearing. They outlined the regimen of physical, sexual and emotional abuse Castro used to control his prisoners.

One of the victims, Michelle Knight, also testified at the sentencing. She described an 11-year horror at Castro’s hands, but told her former captor, “I won’t let you define who I am."

Gina DeJesus’s cousin, Sylvia Colon, and Amanda Berry’s sister, Beth Serrano, also testified about the pain their families experienced during their loved ones’ long disappearance.

“This man deserves as many years and as much punishment as this court can give him,’’ McGinty said in summation.

As he announced his decision, Judge Russo told Castro the fact that he had kidnapped, imprisoned and raped three women over such a long period of time meant he was “too dangerous” ever to leave prison.

The judge dismissed Castro’s attempts to dodge responsibility, saying: “You have not been a victim. You have been a victimizer.”

At a press conference after the hearing, McGinty was asked why he felt it necessary to present so much evidence at sentencing. He said he needed to establish a foundation of facts that would pass withstand future judicial review.

“Without it, there would have been no evidence in the record,” he explained. “The judge would have had no evidence for sentencing. There would have been nothing to uphold a conviction. It would have been outright negligence for a prosecutor not to present evidence.”

Contact: Joseph Frolik, Director of Communication and Public Policy Phone: (216) 698-2819 or Cell: 216-640-6186     

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