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.
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 on August 5 will not happen and he will not face the possibility of being sentenced to death. Judge Michael J. Russo went over the deal with Castro, and told him that he would be labeled as a sexual predator.
Castro replied that he understood. At one point, he interjected that he was "also a victim as a child ..." to which Russo responded that he could make whatever statement he wanted during a sentencing hearing. Russo also said that victims would be notified of the hearing and would then have a chance to say what they liked.
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 was charged with 977 counts, including aggravated murder on suspicion of ending the pregnancy of one of his alleged captives. Under the deal, he agreed to plead guilty to 937 counts.The complete CNN story is here.
Earlier this month, the former bus driver pleaded not guilty to the 977 charges, and he was being held on $8 million bail.
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.