By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND | Wed Sep 4, 2013
(Reuters) – Ariel Castro, sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping, rape and beatings of three Cleveland women he held captive in his house for a decade, was found hanged in his prison cell late Tuesday, a state corrections official said.
The former school bus driver, who pleaded guilty in the decade-long abduction of three women, was under protective custody and isolated from other inmates at the Correctional Reception Center in Orient. Prison staff found him hanged about 9:20 p.m. CDT on Tuesday (0220 GMT, Wednesday), officials said. A review of the incident was underway.
His lawyer said on Wednesday that prison authorities repeatedly denied him a psychologist. “We requested the opportunity for our retained independent psychologist to see and evaluate Mr. Castro in both the county jail and in the prison reception center, where he was being held. We were denied and thwarted in each of our attempts by the state and county,” defense attorney Jaye Schlachet told Reuters.
Castro was sentenced on August 1 to life plus 1,000 years in prison without the possibility of parole for abducting the three and keeping them imprisoned in the dungeon-like confines of his house, where they were starved, beaten and sexually assaulted for about a decade.
After prison medical personnel tried to resuscitate him, Castro, 53, was transferred to an area hospital and pronounced dead about 90 minutes later, officials said.
“If the state of Ohio is going to incarcerate an individual they should protect that individual from themselves and others. They should not allow that person to get killed or kill themselves,” Schlachet said.
Castro was taken into custody in May, just after Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, were freed from the house with assistance from neighbors who heard Berry’s cries for help.
Also rescued was Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, fathered by Castro and born during her mother’s captivity.
Castro pleaded guilty in July to 937 offenses, including kidnapping, rape, felonious assault and aggravated murder under a fetal homicide law for the forcible miscarriage of one of his three victims.
His plea deal with prosecutors spared Castro a possible death penalty for murder.
Castro had been incarcerated since August 5 at the Correctional Reception Center, a prison processing facility outside Columbus, the state capital, about 150 miles southeast of Cleveland.
He was to remain there while undergoing mental and physical evaluations before being transferred to a permanent lockup, prison officials said.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty acknowledged after Castro’s sentencing that a suicide note and confession written by Castro was found by authorities when they searched his home following his arrest in May.
McGinty dismissed the letter as an attempt by Castro, whom he described as a “narcissist”, to feel sorry for himself and to place blame on his victims.
The house where the three women were held, bound with chains and ropes for periods of time, has been torn down along with two homes on adjacent lots.
(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Allison Williams, Daniel Trotta and Jeffrey Benkoe)