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Courts and Crime

Castro pleads guilty, house slated for demolition
Other noon headlines: Amusement rides inspected; Marcellus shale group CEO leaving; Obese inmate dies

Kabir Bhatia
In The Region:
  • Castro pleads guilty, house slated for demolition
  • Amusement rides inspected
  • Marcellus shale group CEO leaving
  • Obese inmate dies
  • Castro pleads guilty
    Ariel Castro, the man accused of kidnapping three women, keeping them captive in his Cleveland home for about a decade and raping them repeatedly has agreed to spend the rest of his life in prison.

    The 53-year-old Castro pleaded guilty in exchange for dismissal of possible death penalty charges in Cleveland federal court today. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 1,000 years.

    Castro's trial was slated to start Aug. 5.

    His indictment had included two counts of aggravated murder related to accusations he punched and starved one of the women until she miscarried.

    As part of the deal, Castro is forfeiting vehicles and other property, plus his home at 2207 Seymour Avenue. It’s being turned over to the Cleveland land bank, slated for demolition, with any property inside going to authorities. But Castro objected to Judge Michael Russo and prosecutor Tim McGinty about the amount of cash in the house, saying there’s more than $22,000 inside.

    Castro was far more engaged and alert than in previous court appearances, when he mostly kept his head down and eyes closed.

    He says a pornography addiction and "sexual problem" have taken a toll on his mind. He also says he was sexually abused as a child.

    Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, and escaped from Castro's house May 6, along with a child Castro fathered with Berry.

    Amusement rides inspected
    Ohio is spending more than $1.1 million this year to inspect amusement park rides and attractions.

    The Dayton Daily News reports that the Ohio Department of Agriculture's amusement ride safety program will inspect more than 3,300 pieces of equipment at more than 600 parks and portable ride companies this year.

    The amusement ride safety program calls for annual licensing and inspections of all equipment before the public starts riding, as well as periodic surprise inspections. Seven state inspectors are working this year.

    State records show there have been five deaths and 46 accidents on amusement rides in Ohio since 2008. Last week, a log ride at Cedar Point in Sandusky malfunctioned, injuring 7 people.

    Marcellus shale group CEO leaving
    The head of Pennsylvania's leading natural gas industry group says she'll be stepping down this fall.

    Kathryn Klaber of the Marcellus Shale Coalition says she's proud of what the group has accomplished over the last four years. The coalition represents drillers, pipeline companies, and other industry-related companies.

    A spokesman says natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale formation has boomed during Klaber's tenure.

    She'll be on the job at least through September, when she hosts the coalition's conference in Philadelphia.

    Obese inmate dies
    An obese Ohio inmate whose weight became an issue in his death penalty case has died, months after being granted clemency.

    A state prisons spokeswoman says 53-year-old Ronald Post died Thursday at a prison hospital where he'd been treated on and off since 2011.

    Post was sentenced to death for killing Elyria motel clerk Helen Vantz in 1983. His attorneys sought mercy for Post on grounds that he could not be executed humanely because he weighed 450 pounds.

    Gov. Kasich granted Post clemency last year citing poor legal representation, not his weight.

    Spokeswoman Ricky Seyfang says the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction classified the death as "expected." She says privacy laws prevented her from divulging whether Post's weight was a factor in his death.
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