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Cleveland Kidnapper Sentenced to Life in Prison Without Parole

Crime
A report from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro may have died from auto-erotic asphyxiation, not suicide, when he was found dead in his cell Sept. 3, 2013. (AP)

The Ohio man who imprisoned three women in his home for a decade will now spend the rest of his life in prison.

A judge on Thursday sentenced Ariel Castro, 53, to life in prison without parole plus 1,000 years, despite Castro's pleading that he was not "a monster" and insistence that there was "harmony" in the home where he kept Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.

"These people are trying to paint me as a monster," Castro said before his sentencing. "I'm not a monster. I'm sick."

Castro pleaded guilty last week to hundreds of counts, including kidnapping, rape and assault, in order to escape the death penalty. On Thursday, he told the court he didn't force himself on the women sexually.

"I do want to let you know there was harmony in that home," Castro said, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I was a good person."

Judge Michael Russo dismissed that notion out of hand: "I'm not sure there's anyone in America that would agree with you," Russo said, according to the Associated Press.

Michelle Knight, the first person Castro abducted, spoke out at the sentencing hearing

"You took 11 years of my life away. I spent 11 years in hell, now your hell is just beginning," Knight said. "I will overcome all this that has happened, but you will face hell for eternity. I will live on, you will die a little very day as you think of the 11 years of atrocities that you inflicted on us. ... I can forgive you, but I will never forget."

This post has been updated.

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