27 Jul 2013

Cleveland kidnapper to spend rest of life in prison

5:55 am on 27 July 2013

Ariel Castro - the man accused of holding three women captive in his house in Cleveland, Ohio, for almost a decade - has pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain.

The BBC reports he will spend the rest of his life in prison. He had faced the death penalty.

Castro, 53, an unemployed school bus driver, was arrested in May after one of the women escaped.

Michelle Knight, 32, Amanda Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 23, were abducted between 2002-04.

Castro was charged with murder for beating and starving one of the women, who was pregnant, until she miscarried.

In a courtroom in Cleveland, Ohio, on Friday Judge Michael Russo repeatedly warned Castro he would never be let out of prison.

"Is that clear?" he asked Castro, who sat in front of him, clad in an orange jail jumpsuit, his hands cuffed.

"I do understand that, your honour," Castro, an unemployed school bus driver, replied. "I knew I was pretty much going to get the book thrown at me."

Castro faced 977 charges. Under the terms of the deal, the BBC reports he will receive an additional prison sentence of 1000 years and his property and other assets will be forfeited.

He will also be classified as a sex offender.

The agreement protects him from further charges and from the death penalty.