Michelle Knight’s courtroom statement on Thursday targeted her captor, Ariel Castro.
Knight–one of three women kidnapped and held captive by Castro in a prison-like Cleveland home–told him that her life has just started, stressing that his life is now over.
“You took 11 years of my life away and I have got it back,” she told Castro in court, according to The Associated Press. “I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all this has happened, but you will face hell for eternity.”
“I cried every night, I was so alone. Years turned into an eternity,” she said. “After eleven years, I am finally being heard, and it is liberating,” Knight added.
It was the first time Knight was seen publicly since she was rescued from the home several months ago. While in court, she did not look at Castro or face him, but he glanced at her a few times. Knight was the first of the three women to be abducted in 2002.
Castro pleaded guilty last week on hundreds of charges, including raping Knight and the other two. He also forced Knight to have a miscarriage of her child. “These people are trying to paint me as a monster,” Casrto said. “I’m not a monster. I’m sick.”
“To this day I’m trying to answer my own questions. I don’t know why a man that had everything going on for himself – I had a job, I had a house, I had vehicles, I had my musical talent,” he said, according to NBC News.
“We had a lot of harmony going on in that home,” he added.
The other two victims–Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus–were not at the sentencing hearing. They were represented by family members.
In the hearing, prosecutors described Castro’s home as a dungeon-like place with a makeshift alarm system. They said that investigators recovered more than 100 feet, or 90 pounds, worth of chain used to hold the three women.
“There were divisions between spaces in the house that were again designed not only to make the house more secure for its occupants but also to hide, I think, the existence of additional rooms in the house,” said FBI Special Agent Andrew Burke.
Castro also told a law enforcement official that he played Russian roulette with the girls. He apparently used an empty revolver and placed the gun to his head.
“I don’t recall it … if the girls said it happened, it probably happened,” Castro was quoted as saying.
Burke also said that Castro would pay the women but would then demand the money back if they wanted anything from the store, according to AP.
In a sentencing memorandum, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty wrote that Castro “admits his disgusting and inhuman conduct” but “remains remorseless for his actions.” He said Castro only fed the women once a day.
“The entries speak of forced sexual conduct, of being locked in a dark room, of anticipating the next session of abuse, of the dreams of someday escaping and being reunited with family, of being chained to a wall, of being held like a prisoner of war … of being treated like an animal,” it reads.
On Wednesday night before the hearing, Knight wrote she wasn’t a terrified person anymore.
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly,” she wrote, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “You don’t know how much I appreciate all your time and work collecting cards and gifts from people for me and the other girls. I am overwhelmed by the amount of thoughts, love and prayers expressed by complete strangers. It is comforting. Life is tough, but I’m tougher!”
In all, Castro pleaded guilty to 937 charges. He will get life in prison plus 1,000 years.