10:52 AM EDT, July 26, 2013
The monster speaks.
The nation heard from Ariel Castro for the first time as he pled guilty to 977 charges of imprisoning and raping three women in his Cleveland house of horrors for a decade.
He said, “I knew I was pretty much going to get the book thrown at me.”
The judge told him, “You understand Mr. Castro by entering this plea you'll never be released from prison?”
Castro replied, “I am fully aware and do consent to it.”
With glasses and a full beard, Castro looked completely different from his previous appearance in court when he could barely keep his eyes open.
Jason Johnson said on CNN, "This is a different Ariel Castro, I know he is a monster when you see him, but he seems almost at peace."
The judge told Castro he will be sentenced life plus 1,000 years in prison. He can never be paroled. The plea deal means he avoids a death sentence.
It also means his victims, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, will not have to relive their unspeakable nightmare at a public trial.
Arthur Aidala said on Fox News, "Those young women would have had to testify in a very public way about atrocities, actual atrocities."
The three brave women released this statement: "Amanda, Gina, and Michelle are relieved by today's plea. They are satisfied by this resolution to the case, and are looking forward to having these legal proceedings draw to a final close in the near future."
Castro fathered a six-year-old daughter with Berry and at the hearing told the judge, "I miss my daughter very much."
As part of his plea deal, Castro forfeits ownership of his house of horrors and prosecutors say it will be demolished once and for all.