Published August 01, 2013
Ariel Castro questioned the mental state of his former captives and insisted he's "not a monster," but one of the three women he held in his Cleveland basement for more than a decade told him she spent "11 years in hell."
Michelle Knight was the only victim who appeared in court Thursday to face Castro, who was later sentenced to life without parole and told him that his hell 'is just beginning.'
"I will overcome all this has happened, but you will face hell for eternity."
Knight, 32, was the first woman abducted by Castro in 2002 after he lured her into his house with the promise of a puppy for her son.
Castro, dressed in an orange jumpsuit and a beard, sat motionless during her address. He waited for his turn to tell the court that he is "not a monster." He reminded those at his sentencing hearing that he was married, held a job as a bus driver and is happy person on the inside.
"I believe I'm a porn addict," he said. "I'm not a violent person, I just kept them there without being able to leave."
He rambled on that he did not force himself on the girls and, at times, they asked him for sex. He said there was 'harmony' inside his home, but then apologized to everyone touched by the case.
Judge Michael Russo told Castro that it's likely that there is nobody else in the country that agrees that there was harmony inside that home. Russo said he could have sought help for any psychological issues and told him, "You don't deserve to be out in our community, you're too dangerous."
Russo sentenced Castro to life with no chance of parole for aggravated murder in the forced miscarriage. He then received 1,000 years for the kidnapping, rape, assault and other charges.
Prosecutors detailed Castro's daily assaults on the women, recounted in diaries that compared the women's experience to that of prisoners of war.
FBI agent Andrew Burke said Castro created a makeshift alarm system and chained 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, he said. The house was divided in ways to make it more secure and to hide the existence of rooms, he said.
Burke also testified that Castro would occasionally pay his victims after raping them. But he then would require them to pay him if they wanted something special from the store.
The letter written by Castro was found in his home and shown in court. It read "Confession and Details" at the top.
Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Detective Dave Jacobs said he talked with Castro a few days after the women escaped and that Castro said, "I knew what I did was wrong."
A police officer who helped rescue the women said one was reluctant to come out of her room even when she saw the officers. They were scared even after they were taken out of the house and quickly began sharing details about the horrors they went through, saying that they had been starved and beaten.
"They were just shouting out a lot of things," said Cleveland police officer Barb Johnson. She described the women as thin, pale and scared.
Responding to questions from prosecutors, Cleveland police detective Andrew Harasimchuk said that the women all described a pattern of being physically, sexually and emotionally assaulted for years. He said all three women were 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.
Prosecutors used a model of the house where Castro, 53, imprisoned the women to present their case. They also showed photos taken from inside the disheveled home.
The women quickly escaped after Amanda Berry kicked out the door panel on May 6 and Castro was arrested within hours. The women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.
Some horrific details of the women's ordeal had already emerged, including tales of being chained to poles in the basement or a bedroom heater or inside a van, with one woman forced to wear a motorcycle helmet while chained in the basement and, after she tried to escape, having a vacuum cord wrapped around her neck.
Castro repeatedly starved and beat one of the victims each time she was pregnant, forcing her to miscarry five times.
He forced the same woman on threat of death to safely deliver the child he fathered with another victim on Christmas Day 2006. The same day, prosecutors say, Castro raped the woman who helped deliver his daughter.
As part of his plea deal, Castro was to receive a sentence of life with no chance of parole for aggravated murder in the forced miscarriage. He would then receive 1,000 years for the kidnapping, rape, assault and other charges.
Berry, 27, made a surprise onstage appearance at a rap concert last weekend, and a second victim, Gina DeJesus, 23, has made a few televised comments. Knight, 32, appeared with Berry and DeJesus in a video in early July thanking the community for its support.
The Associated Press contributed to this report