Michelle Knight, one of the women held captive for about a decade in Ariel Castro’s Cleveland home, faced her kidnapper in court Friday and gave an incredible statement during his sentencing hearing.
Knight spoke of the torture and abuse the women were subjected to during their imprisonment in Castro’s house. Representatives for the two other victims, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, also gave statements in court.
Knight’s statement about her experience is below:
I cried every night. I was so alone. I worried about what would happen to me and the other girls every day. 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 … even on holidays. Christmas was the most traumatic day because I never got to spend it with my son. Nobody should ever have to go through what I went through.
Gina was my teammate. She never let me fall, I never let her fall. She nursed me back to health when I was dying from his abuse. My friendship with her was the only thing that was good from this situation. We said that someday we would make it out alive, and we did.
Ariel Castro, I remember all the times that you came home talking about what everyone else did wrong. … You said, ‘At least I didn’t kill you.’ You took 11 years of my life away. … I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all this that happened, but you will face hell for eternity. Form this moment on, I will not let you define me or affect who I am. I will live on, but you will die a little every day.
What does God think of you hypocritically going to church every Sunday? Coming home to torture us? The death penalty would be so much easier. You don’t deserve that. You deserve life in prison.
With the guidance of God, I will prevail and help others that suffered at the hands of others.
I know that there is a lot of people going through hard times, but we need to reach out a hand and hold them and let them know that they’re being heard. After 11 years, I’m finally being heard, and it’s liberating.
DeJesus’ cousin Sylvia gave a statement to the court on her behalf:
We have enjoyed our low-key lives and pray that we can continue to savour our privacy. Today, we will close this chapter of our lives.
Today is the last day that we want to think or talk about this. … We will continue to live and love. We stand before you and promise you that our beloved family member thrives. She laughs, she swims, she dances, and more importantly, she loves. And she is loved. She will finish school, go to college, fall in love. … She is where we will continue to put in our energy. She lives not as a victim, but as a survivor.
And Berry’s sister Beth Serrano spoke for her, asking for privacy:
Even if I wanted to talk about it, it is impossible to put into words. I lost my sister for all those years, and I thought it was forever.
She is doing better every day. She is not just my only sister, but the best friend I have. … She does not want to talk about these things, she has not talked about it even to me.
She has a young daughter. She would love to be the person who decides when to tell her daughter, how to tell her daughter. When people say things and file things in court, it is public. It is written and talked about by people we don’t know. … She does not want people to talk or write about what happened.
She is grateful this case is over. She wanted to say thank you to the people that have supported her and our family.
Castro is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 1,000 years. He pleaded guilty to 937 counts against him.
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