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CLEVELAND, OH (Toledo News Now) -
A plea deal has been reached in the Ariel Castro kidnapping and rape case.
The deal is life without parole. By reaching this plea agreement Castro understands he is waiving his right to a trial by jury.
He pleaded guilty to all of the 937 charges; however, he did not agree with the wording of some of the charges. The original indictment was for 977 counts. Some of the counts were merged.
The plea deal is in exchange for no death penalty for the aggravated murder charge.
Castro held Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight captive in his Cleveland home for years, before they were rescued on May 6.
The charges include rape, kidnapping and aggravated murder stemming from the death of an unborn child by one of the victims. Castro pleaded guilty to terminating a pregnancy of one of his victims.
During captivity, he also fathered a child with victim, Amanda Berry.
During Friday morning's court hearing, Judge Michael Russo asked Castro several questions to make sure he understood the deal reached.
Castro said he understood. During the proceeding he told the judge he was a victim as a child. He didn't go into any detail. The judge said he would have an opportunity to talk about that during sentencing.
Sentencing is set for Aug. 1.
Castro also will be classified as a sexual predator, specifically a tier III sex offender.
Castro said during the hearing he knew the "book was going to be thrown" at him when he was arrested.
Castro held the three women captive in his Seymour Avenue house he resided in. As part of the deal, the house will be demolished.
Berry, Knight and DeJesus disappeared on separate occasions between 2002 and 2004.
The three women issued a statement after Friday's plea deal.
Jones Day issued the following statement on behalf of the survivors: "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. They continue to desire their privacy. They do not wish to speak to the media or anyone else, and they thank people for continuing to respect their privacy as they grow stronger. They are immensely grateful for the support they have received from family, friends, and the donations to the Cleveland Courage Fund."
A Statement from Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson This plea agreement moves this case closer to a final resolution and allows us to continue to heal as a community." "Most importantly, this plea agreement spares the victims of these crimes from having to relive their ordeal, and hopefully allows them to continue to privately heal with their friends and loved ones. Today is not the day to think about the actions of one man. Instead, we should all reflect on the strength and courage Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus possess that allowed them to survive and escape." "in light of today's plea agreement, there will be a renewed interest in hearing the young women's story. I ask everyone to remember that these young women, as brave and strong as they are, are still in the midst of a long healing process. We all need to respect their privacy and give them the space they need to heal."
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