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Ariel Castro pleads guilty, accepts life behind bars
Unlike previous appearances in court, Castro this time appeared engaged, looking up at the judge rather than down at the floor and speaking clearly. He wore glasses for the first time and said he was able to see his surroundings.
“I knew that when I first spoke to the FBI agent when I first got arrested,” he said later.
After the news broke that the three women had managed to escape from Castro’s house in a poor section of Cleveland, the city and the nation were shocked by the degree and duration of the captivity. Many sought to understand how the imprisonment could have gone on and why it began.
The women _ Amanda Berry, 27; Gina DeJesus, 23; and Michelle Knight, 32 _ were held in seclusion, sometimes chained within the home. The women disappeared between 2002 and 2004, when each was in her teens or early 20s.
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Prosecutors and defense lawyers have been working for weeks on a plea deal that was announced more than a month after the women broke their silence in a written statement. They said they were “hopeful for a just and prompt resolution” and had “great faith in the prosecutor’s office and the court.” On July 8, the three released a YouTube video, thanking people.
Castro had been scheduled for trial Aug. 5 on a 977-count indictment, but 40 counts were dropped as part of the deal.
Wearing handcuffs and an orange jail jumpsuit, the bearded Castro looked forward and repeatedly said he knew what was going on in court and that he agreed with the final disposition of the case.
“I am aware of that,” Castro replied.
Russo asked whether Castro understood that he was pleading guilty and admitting to all that had been charged.
As part of the plea deal, Castro’s home will be turned over to county officials and will be demolished.
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