The Cleveland man who pleaded guilty to 937 charges related to his kidnapping and imprisonment of three women between 2002 and May of this year was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.

A notable presence at the hearing Thursday was Michelle Knight, whom Castro abducted in 2002, when she was 20 years old. She took the stand and confronted her attacker, saying:

Days never got shorter, 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. … Nobody should ever have to go through what I went through. ... You took 11 years of my life away. I went through 11 years of hell, and now your hell is just beginning. You will face hell for an eternity. You will die a little every day. ... You deserve to spend life in prison.

Relatives of the other two victims, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry (both of whom were not in court), also spoke. Their testimony, along with that of numerous law-enforcement officials, painted a terrifying picture of a decade-plus of sexual abuse and physical and emotional torture.

One official, Joshua Barr of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, described the situation like this:

Mr. Castro had a gun in the home and 92 pounds of chains that were used to restrain the women. ... [There was] an elaborate system of alarms on the doors and a motorcycle helmet that Mr. Castro forced the women to wear when he raped them. Mr. Castro also made the women play Russian roulette and threatened them with a gun.

Castro previously agreed to a plea deal in which he would plead guilty to charges of kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder (this is related to when he forced Knight to have a miscarriage by repeatedly punching and kicking her in her stomach when she was pregnant). He received a sentence of life plus 1,000 years in jail.

Near the end of the hearing, Ariel Castro claimed, "I am not a monster. I'm sick." He apologized to the victims and blamed his behavior on a pornography addiction.

Michelle Knight wrote a letter to the Cleveland Police Department, thanking them for their efforts following her rescue. It was posted to the department's Facebook page on Wednesday:

letter from Michelle Knight
Cleveland Police Dept.

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