Cleveland: Ariel Castro, the Cleveland bus driver who abducted, imprisoned and tortured three women, has been sentenced to life in prison plus 1000 years with no parole after one of his victims confronted him, saying he had put her through 11 years of hell.
Castro, 53, was alternately defiant and apologetic while showing no remorse in a rambling final statement to the court. Although he said he was sorry for his actions, he insisted "I am not a monster. I'm sick".
"If you asked my daughter she would say, my dad is the best dad in the world," Castro said.
Michelle Knight reads statements while supported by her attorney and friend as her accused assailant Ariel Castro sits in the courtroom during Castros sentencing of kidnapping, rape and murder in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo: Reuters
"All the sex was consensual," he told the judge before sentencing. "The girls were not virgins. They had multiple sex partners before me."
Despite having pleaded guilty to 977 charges related to his victims’ brutal decade-long ordeal, including many rapes and the murder of a foetus through beating its mother, Castro said he was not a violent man.
Castro claimed that he had himself been sexually abused as a child and had grown up obsessed with sex, addicted to pornography and a compulsive masturbator.
Chains found in a bedroom are shown during the sentencing phase for Ariel Castro in Cleveland. Castro. Photo: AP
He said he had not plotted the three kidnaps, but had acted on impulse.
‘‘I am not a monster. I am a normal person. I am just sick. I have an addiction just like an alcoholic has an addiction,’’ he said.
‘‘Alcoholics cannot control their addiction. That’s what I can’t control my addiction, your honour. Most of the sex that went on in that house, practically all of it was consensual.
Ariel Castro breaks down while talking about the child that he fathered with Amada Berry as he addresses the court while seated between attorneys. Photo: Reuters
‘‘These allegations about being forceful on them, that is totally wrong,’’ he said.
Cuyahoga County Judge Michael Russo, describing Castro as suffering from "extreme narcissism," said the crimes were so extreme that the former school bus driver should never emerge from prison. Castro had pleaded guilty to hundreds of charges including murder for beating and starving victim Michelle Knight to force her to miscarry during pregnancy.
The full sentence was life without parole plus 1000 years, ensuring that Castro will never come out of prison.
An image is shown on a courtroom monitor of a letter that Ariel Castro wrote explaining many of his crimes and stating that "I am a sexual predator", during Castro's sentencing on kidnapping, rape and murder in Cleveland,
Ms Knight, 32, made a dramatic appearance in court before the sentencing and read a statement saying Castro had persecuted her, starting with her abduction in 2002 until she was freed on May 6, 2013.
''You will face hell for eternity,'' she said. "From this moment on I won't let you define me or affect who I am. You will live. I will live on. While you die a little every day as you think about the 11 years and atrocities you inflicted on us.
"Days turned into nights, nights turned into days. Years turned into eternity. I knew nobody cared about me. He told me that my family didn't care," Ms Knight said, choking back tears.
Michelle Knight speaks during the sentencing phase for Ariel Castro in Cleveland. Photo: AP
Ms Knight said death would be ‘‘so much easier’’ for her tormenter.
"I spent 11 years of hell. Now your hell is just beginning," she told him. Wearing leg shackles and dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, Castro sparred with the judge over some of the charges and listened to the testimony and sentencing without expression.
Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23 and Knight, all went missing from the west side of Cleveland between 2002 and 2004. They were discovered on May 6 after neighbours heard Berry's cries for help from Castro's home.
Ms Berry has a 6-year-old daughter fathered by Castro in captivity, according to DNA evidence.
The child had a "normal" life, Castro said, and Ms Berry "is out partying" after her release, so she must be okay.
He described the little girl as his "miracle child." The only point at which he became at all emotional was when he spoke about her.
"I heard I can file for parental rights," Castro told the judge at one point. Judge responded that he would not be allowed any contact with the girl.