Nightly News   |  August 01, 2013

Cleveland kidnap survivor confronts Castro

For the first time, Michelle Knight confronted the man who held her captive for 11 years, telling Ariel Castro she spent more than a decade in hell, and now “your hell is just beginning.” Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 1,000 years. NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. as it unfolded in court today, in cleveland, ohio, a live television audience was allowed to see a man who has arguably the face of mental illness. a man described as a monster. who for a decade held young women prisoners in his home. and during his long and rambling remarks in court, he said he was sick and he appropriated the language of the addiction treatment culture to paint himself as a victim. as he tried to contend the girls he kept chained up in his home were some how content. it was tough to watch at times especially when one of his brave victims spoke. now he will live out his remaining days behind bars as part of a plea deal. it is where we begin to night. nbc's kate snow is there live for us this evening. kate, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening to you, brian. the women that he held in that house for over ten years all kept diaries which helped prosecutors lay out the case against ariel castro . today, the methodically went through the evidence all the crimes that ariel castro has admitted to and survivors had a chance to speak. amanda berry, gina dejesus chose to speak through family members, but michelle knight was there in person.

>> reporter: just writing the word, michelle knight said had given her strength.

>> i cried every night. i was so alone.

>> reporter: the strength to fight back tears and describe 11 horrific years.

>> days never got shorter. days turned into nights. nights turned into days. years turned into eternity . i knew --

>> reporter: the strength to confront ariel castro for the first time since she escaped her prison.

>> ariel castro you took 11 years of my life away. i got it back. i spent 11 years in hell. now your hell is just beginning.

>> reporter: witnesses described how michelle knight was abducted in 2002 . castro promised a puppy for her young son if she would come inside his home. for the first time we saw what it looked like, bed rooms with toys and musical instruments . but with 99 feet of heavy iron chains strung through the walls to hold the women in place. windows nailed shut. and a crude alarm system on the doors. their only bathrooms plastic toilets, rarely emptied. they were fed just one meal a day.

>> they were deprived of mother, of family, of home, of school of ten years in which you make your transition from being a young woman to being a woman.

>> reporter: but then came may 6, this year, the 6-year-old girl castro fathered with amanda berry was running of and down the stairs this detective said, shouting daddy left and went to grandma's house. amanda berry saw her chance to escape. one of the first officers on scene described discovering michelle knight still inside hiding behind a curtain.

>> she literally launched herself into the officer's arms. her arms choking him and just kept repeating you saved us. you saved us.

>> reporter: when it was ariel castro 's turn to speak, traditionally afforded to any defendant at a sentencing he ramble ford 16:13 .

>> i am not a monster. i did not pray on these women.

>> reporter: he blamed everyone but himself, even his victims and referred to harmony in the home. the judge was incredulous.

>> in your mind there was harmony and a happy household. i'm not sure there was any body in america that will agree with you.

>> reporter: then the sentencing began. life without parole plus 1,000 years.

>> you will be confined for the remainder of your dates. judge michael russo said he hoped the sentence gave the victims some peace.

>> after 11 years, i am finally being heard and it's liberating.

>> reporter: amanda berry's sister said she craves privacy. gina dejesus's aunt said she plans to go to high school , go to college and fall in love one day. on her way out of the court she looked at ariel castro and said in spanish, may god rest your soul. brian.

>> incredible day.