The lead lawyer for Ariel Castro, the accused, and widely presumed guilty, kidnapper and rapist in the Cleveland kidnapping case, may accept a plea deal to avoid the death penalty. Castro initially pleaded not guilty to 977 charges, 958 of which are kidnapping (512) or rape (446).
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said that he was prepared to go to trial, but Ariel Castro’s lawyer Craig Weintraub sounded an exasperated note on the task before him:
“How are we supposed to defend this gentleman?”
Weintraub was referring directly to how he needed time to review the numerous charges against Castro, but he could have just as easily been referring to the impossible task of defending Ariel Castro. There is no plausible scenario that exonerates Castro from kidnapping Gina DeJesus, 23, Amanda Berry, 27, and Michelle Knight, 32, imprisoning them for many years and raping them repeatedly. Castro also fathered a daughter, now 6, with Berry. “Defending” Castro would amount to little more than what Weintraub is doing: negotiating a deal in which Castro avoids the death penalty by agreeing to plead guilty to charges that will have Castro in jail for the rest of his life.
Ariel Castro is about as despicable a human as one could imagine without going up to the level of mass killers and dictators, but a plea deal that avoids the death penalty and has him in jail for the rest of his life is the best possible outcome. A trial would be a long media fiasco that would inevitably lead to the victims, DeJesus, Berry and Knight, testifying. That’s the last thing they need right now as they continue to recover. Death sentences are not nearly as simple as they sound either. People sentenced to death almost always use every appeal available to them, and the process ends up being more expensive than incarceration (and involves at least a few years of incarceration between the death sentence and the actual execution. We don’t need another media circus. We just need Ariel Castro to go to prison for the rest of his life.