A judge in Cleveland confirmed a 1,000-year prison term for kidnapper Ariel Castro at his sentencing hearing today, but not before a moving speech from one of his victims, and Castro's own stubborn insistence that he did nothing wrong. Last week, Castro pled guilty to more than 900 charges, including kidnapping, rape, and aggravated murder in exchange for a prosecution decision to not seek the death penalty. However, he was still given life without the possibility of parole, plus another 1,000 years for his many crimes.
When given the opportunity to speak on his own behalf, Castro stubbornly refused to accept his own guilt blaming his crimes on "sexual addiction," caused in turn by his own sexual abuse as a child. He apologized to the victims but attempted to portray them as happy, almost willing participants, insisting he was not violent with them, and — most unbelievably of all — that there was a lot of "harmony" in their house.
Judge Michael Russo did not find his statement moving, and upheld the plea bargain saying the consecutives sentences and lack of parole options were not inappropriate given the circumstances.
Before that, however, the first of his victims, Michelle Knight confronted Castro in the courtroom, delivering a moving impact statement about her time in captivity. (The other two victims, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, were not present, but did have family members speak on their behalf.) Knight sat through the entire hearing, but also stood up to briefly describe her years in captivity and the torture that Castro put through, calling him a hypocrite who accused everyone else of doing wrong, even as he was committing his crimes.
She told her kidnapper that he did not deserve the death penalty, because he should to spend the rest of his life in prison. She added, "You took 11 years of my life away... I spent a 11 years in hell. Your hell is just beginning."