CLEVELAND — The U.S. man convicted of holding three women captive in his house for over a decade and raping them repeatedly was sentenced Thursday to life without parole plus 1,000 years.
Ariel Castro, 53, had pleaded guilty to 937 counts including aggravated murder, kidnapping, rape and assault.
Castro apologized and told the court he’s addicted to pornography, but he claimed that most of the sex with the women was consensual.
“These people are trying to paint me as a monster,” he said. “I’m not a monster. I’m sick.”
A deal struck with prosecutors Friday spared him from a possible death sentence for beating and starving a pregnant victim until she miscarried.
The women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004 when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.
They escaped May 6 when one of them, Amanda Berry, broke out part of the door to Castro’s house and yelled to neighbours for help.
Castro said Thursday he knows what he did was wrong, but that he’s not a violent person and that his captives asked for sex and weren’t tortured.
Judge Michael Russo dismissed Castro’s claims that the women lived a happy life with him.
“I’m not sure there’s anyone in America that would agree with you,” he said.
The women described horrific conditions in the home, which Castro turned into a jury-rigged prison.
“You took 11 years of my life away, and I have got it back,” Michelle Knight told Castro on Thursday. “I spent 11 years in hell. Now you’re hell is just beginning. I will overcome all this has happened, but you will face hell for eternity.”
Knight said she missed her young son every day of her captivity.
Knight, 32, did not face Castro as she spoke, but he glanced toward her several times. She was the first woman he abducted in 2002 after he lured her into his house with the promise of a puppy for her son.
As Castro was led away, Knight watched, smiling.
FBI agent Andrew Burke said Castro turned his house 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 closet doors and doorknobs had been removed and replaced with multiple locks, Burke said. The house was divided in ways to make it more secure and to hide the existence of rooms, he said.