Ariel Castro, who is facing 977 criminal charges related to the kidnapping of three women in the Cleveland area, has struck a plea bargain that will save him from the death penalty, but send him to prison for the rest of his life. He will plead guilty to kidnapping, rape, and aggravated murder (for the death of one of the victim's unborn baby) in addition to most of the other charges, and in exchange will receive a "negotiated" recommended sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He will also have a minimum of 1,000 years tacked onto the end of his life sentence, if the agreement is approved.
Castro was asked several times by the judge if he understood that the agreement means he has no chance of ever getting out of prison, as he will never get a parole hearing. Castro said clearly that he understood what it meant. He is also being barred from profiting on the case, meaning he won't be able sell his story now that it's over.
The agreement also means that the three women who Castro kidnapped and held in his home for nearly a decade, will not be forced to testify against him in court. They will be given the option to speak at his formal sentencing hearing on August 1, but it's not known if any of them will choose to do so. Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight released a joint statement asking for continued privacy.
The judge still has to approve the agreement, but there's been no indication that there's any problems with the agreement at the moment. Lawyers also announced today that Castro's house, where he kept them imprisoned will be completely demolished "very soon." Castro will also be classified as a registered sex offender, even though it won't matter since he's never leaving jail.
Update: The plea agreement is final. Castro will spend the rest of his life in jail, according to the terms of the agreement. Here's a video of Castro accepting the deal. Castro, among other things, said during that hearing that "my addiction to pornography and my sexual problem has really taken a toll on my mind." The judge noted that he'd be able to make whatever statement he wanted at his August sentencing. Here's a video from the hearing: