After initially pleading not guilty to a 977-count indictment that includes charges related to kidnapping women and holding them in the basement of his home, where he raped them and assaulted them to the point of causing abortions, Ariel Castro has accepted a plea deal.
Castro took the deal, according to an AP report, to avoid the death penalty. The plea means the victims and their families will be spared a long trial, having to endure the grisly details of Castro’s lengthy and horrific crimes.
Castro was in court Friday morning to enter the guilty plea. When asked if he understood he would never be released from prison, Castro said: “I do understand that, your honor.”
He added, “I knew I was pretty much going to get the book thrown at me.”
The deal comes more than a month after a statement issued on behalf of the women said they were “hopeful for a just and prompt resolution” and had “great faith in the prosecutor’s office and the court.”
Castro, 53, had been scheduled for trial Aug. 5 on a 977-count indictment. The indictment included two counts of aggravated murder related to accusations that he punched and starved one woman until she miscarried. The former school bus driver also was charged with hundreds of counts of kidnapping and rape, plus assault and other counts.
He was accused of repeatedly restraining the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van. The charges alleged Castro assaulted one woman with a vacuum cord around her neck when she tried to escape.
The sticking point on a plea deal had been whether the prosecutor would rule out the death penalty. The Cuyahoga County prosecutor had kept that issue under review.
Castro starved and kicked one of the kidnapped pregnant women, Michelle Knight, resulting in her miscarrying five children.
Michelle’s brother Freddie tells the New York Daily News that Michelle wants to be reunited with the son she had before she was abducted by Castro. He was born after Michelle was gang-raped by boys at school prior to her abduction.
After Castro was apprehended, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said his office intended to seek charges not only for the sexual assaults endured by the victims, but also “each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies.” Local pro-life groups in Ohio asked McGinty to follow through on his promise and the county jury did just that.
Two counts of the indictment are for aggravated murder in the deaths of two unborn babies.
Several national and Ohio pro-life groups joined together to sign and deliver a letter asking Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty to file murder charges against Ariel Castro for killing five unborn children during the kidnapping of Michelle Knight, one of the three women he abducted. The signers of the letter believed that Castro should be charged for violating Ohio’s Fetal Homicide Law.
A representative of one of the groups told LifeNews he’s happy the grand jury returned charges.
“Our coalition is pleased that the prosecutor kept his word by following our urging to charge Castro with murder. The grand juries’ decision to charge Castro with murdering two of the unborn children that Michelle Knight was carrying will hopefully bring them justice,” said Mark Harrington of Created Equal. “These babies deserve the same protection that all pregnant mothers have. Despite the fact that the Michelle Knight was not also killed in this instance is beside the point. We expect Castro to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for murdering these unborn babies.”
CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE!
The Ohio Fetal Homicide Law (ORC 2903.01) reads, “No person shall purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy.”
Harrington said Castro should be charged with aggravated and felonious assault against Knight and aggravated murder of her five children.
Attorney Samuel Casey, a pro-life advocate who has been closely monitoring the case, said, “We believe that whether a child is in utero or ‘born alive’ — whether we call it fetal homicide or infanticide—it is a criminal action to take an innocent human being’s life. The mother’s consent (particularly when it is coerced or uninformed) should make no difference to the existence of the crime being committed. Whether the apparent motive is a commercial one (as in Kermit Gosnell’s case) or sexual abuse (as in Castro’s case), it should be just as criminal for a health care provider or a sexual deviant to kill a baby born or preborn because pregnancy is not a disease and induced abortion is never health care.”