Ariel Castro pleads guilty to 937 counts, avoids death penalty

Photo provided by MGN Online.
Friday, July 26, 2013 - 1:00pm

Three young kidnapping victims could be spared another ordeal because there may be no trial.

Castro is accused of holding three women against their will for about a decade.

Ariel Castro agreed Friday in an Ohio courtroom to a plea deal in one of the most sensational kidnapping cases in recent memory. The deal, reached with prosecutors, would let him avoid the possibility of a death sentence and spare his alleged victims from having to testify at a trial.

Castro, accused of raping and holding three women captive in Cleveland for close to a decade, has agreed to plead guilty to 937 counts in a deal that recommends he be sentenced to life in prison without parole. The deal would let him avoid the death penalty and would spare the women from having to testify at a trial.

The plea deal recommends that he be sentenced to life in prison without parole -- that he never get a parole hearing. It could also mean that a trial Castro was facing August 5 will not happen and he will not face the possibility of being sentenced to death.

A source close to the case had earlier told CNN that the deal could require that Castro stand at a podium in court and plead guilty.

An attorney for three women had told CNN that they were hoping for a plea deal because they do not want to take the stand at Castro's trial.

Castro is charged with 937 counts, including aggravated murder on suspicion of ending the pregnancy of one of his alleged captives.

Earlier this month, he pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is being held with bail set at $8-million.

Castro's defense attorneys had previously said they wanted a deal that would take capital punishment out of the equation.

Castro abducted Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Georgina "Gina" DeJesus separately in a two-year period starting in 2002, according to authorities.

The women and Berry's 6-year-old daughter were freed in May after one of the women shouted for help while Castro was away from his 1,400-square-foot home.

DNA tests have confirmed that Castro is the rescued child's father.

In early July, Berry, DeJesus and Knight released a YouTube video offering their thanks to all those who have helped them since they were freed.

"I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing," Berry said in the video. "I'm getting stronger each day."
 

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