Castro's 1,400-square-foot home was reconfigured to keep the women's whereabouts a secret, FBI agent Andrew Burke testified. The back door was outfitted with an alarm; bedspreads and curtains obscured parts of the home; and a porch swing was placed in front of the stairs leading to the rooms where Castro held the women and girl hostage.
In the room where Berry and her daughter were held, the doorknob was removed, a lock was affixed to the outside and a hole was cut through the door for ventilation because the windows had been boarded up from the inside, Burke said.
Burke also described a handwritten letter in which Castro claimed he had been sexually abused as a child and wrote, "I am a sexual predator."
'You saved us!'
The first police officer on the scene, Barbara Johnson, recalled for the court how she and another officer heard the pitter-patter of footsteps in a dark room where Knight and DeJesus were held.
When the captive women realized they were police, Knight "literally launched herself" onto an officer, "legs, arms, just choking him. She just kept repeating, 'You saved us! You saved us!' " Johnson said.
Multiple officers testified that Castro appeared to show no remorse for his crimes, and prosecutor Anna Faraglia said he "tormented" his victims by allowing them to watch vigils held in their honor, and he even attended some.
Castro would talk to his victims' parents as if he were distraught by their disappearances when "they were right underneath his roof," Faraglia said.
'Thank you, victims'
In addition to Russo's guarantee that he "will never be released from incarceration during the period of his remaining natural life for any reason," Castro was also hit with a forfeiture of property and fined $100,000.
As the judge sentenced him, Castro took issue with the aggravated murder charge related to the termination of his victims' pregnancies, saying there was no evidence those incidents occurred. Russo reminded him that he had already pleaded guilty, and Castro said he did so only to save his victims further trauma.
"In your mind, there was harmony and a happy household," Russo said. "I'm not sure there's anyone else in America who would agree with you."
As the hearing came to a close, Castro turned around in the court and glanced at family members of the victims.
"Thank you, victims. Please find it in your heart to forgive me," he said.
In each case, according to court documents, Castro lured the women into his car with the promise of a ride. The women and girl were freed in May after Berry shouted for help while Castro was away.
Neighbors heard her cries and came to her aid as she tried to break through a door to get out. One neighbor gave her a cell phone to call authorities.
"Help me, I am Amanda Berry," she frantically told a 911 operator. "I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here. I'm free now."
In early July, Berry, DeJesus and Knight released a YouTube video thanking all those who have helped them since they were freed. Berry and DeJesus have not faced their captor and tormentor since their rescue.
"I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us has been a blessing," Berry said in the video. "I'm getting stronger each day."