Gary Strauss, USA TODAY
The sentencing hearing for Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man responsible for the kidnapping and rape of three women for more than a decade, began Thursday with the former school bus driver apologizing to his victims.
Heavily shackled and wearing his orange jail jumpsuit, Castro was led into the courtroom at 9:23 a.m. "I want to apologize to the victims,'' Castro said at the outset. He's expected to give a statement explaining his life, which he said previously had been impacted by being sexually abused as a child and a long-time addiction to pornography.
Castro's brief apology came before a series of law enforcement officials detailed some of the grisly details behind the years of sexual, emotional and physical torture Castro forced upon his victims, including binding them with chains, repeated beatings and putting a gun to their heads.
His attorney, Craig Weintraub, said Castro has "significant undisclosed mental illness."
But Dr. Gregory Saathoff, a forensic psychiatrist who reviewed Castro's interrogation, later testified that Castro had no mental "illness whatsoever" had been methodical in keeping the women captive and avoiding detection.
Castro, 53, pleaded guilty to 937 charges last week, including aggravated murder, rape and kidnapping, to avoid the death penalty conviction. Under terms of the plea deal, he'll get life imprisonment, plus 1,000 years, with no chance for parole.