Ariel Castro Pleads Guilty to Avoid Death Penalty (Watch)

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Ariel Castro, on July 24, 2013

*Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive in his home for about a decade, has agreed to plead guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty.

In exchange, prosecutors said the 53-year-old Castro would be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years.

Castro had been charged in a 977-count indictment.

He had been scheduled for trial Aug. 5 on allegations that include repeatedly restraining the women and punching and starving one woman until she had a miscarriage.

The women – Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus – disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each said they had accepted a ride from Castro.

Friday’s plea deal means the women will not have to testify or sit through a trial.

They escaped Castro’s house May 6 when one kicked out part of a door and called to neighbors for help. Castro was arrested within hours and has remained behind bars.

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