Cleveland kidnappings case – Legal commentary by defense attorney Enrique Latoison

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We’re following new developments in the Cleveland kidnappings case. Today, Ariel Castro changed his plea from not guilty to guilty. He is accused of kidnapping, raping, and torturing three young women, holding them captive in his basement for a decade. The new plea bargain means Castro will avoid the death penalty. He’ll spend the rest of his life behind bars without any chance for parole and his three victims won’t have to endure the pain of a lengthy trial. Joining us now with more insights is defense attorney Enrique Latoison live in our digital operations center. Good to see you again Enrique. I have to ask you, as a defense attorney, of course the deal took the death penalty off the table, did it make sense to you?

Yes, it definitely does. Mr. Castro was looking at an aggravated murder charge against a fetus. He’s looking at the death penalty. That is a capital crime under Ohio state law. So, this particular case, yes he’s getting life plus a thousand years but he is avoiding the death penalty. So, the decision does make sense that he would enter into this plea.

Let’s focus on the victims, the three victims, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. They, of course, have asked for privacy after he entered his plea. The fact that there won’t be a trial and all the details about what they endur4d for a decade they now won’t have to go through that. Talk to us about what must be going through their minds right now.

They definitely have to be relived at this point. The prosecutors in this case did a very good job. They were able to secure a guilty plea of life plus a thousand years and the entire time not having to have their victims testify in this case. That’s a very good win for the prosecution In this case. The judge also instructed that the victims next Thursday, august 1, if they wanted to, they could appear at the sentencing hearing. They could testify at the sentencing hearing or they could send a representative or even a letter. I think, at the very least, you will at least see a letter that will be read at the sentencing hearing next week from the victims.

So, it allows them to have some say. You know, some news came out at this hearing today. Castro talked about being a victim of child abuse, sexual child abuse, himself, that he was addicted to pornography. Will that sort of information mitigate it all when the formal hearing takes place next month?

No, definitely not. Mr. Castro doesn’t seem to get it. I mean, he even took issue today to the word violent when the judge explained that he is going to be designated as a violent sexual predator. There are many survivors of sexual abuse, and these survivors do not go out and drag innocent young children into a house and keep them as sexual slaves for over 10 years. So, he does not seem to get it, Renee, and I do not think it’s going to make a difference in this case and it shouldn’t make a difference in this case.

Alright, that will be the last word. Thanks for coming in and talking to us, defense attorney Enrique Latoison, thank you.

Thank you.

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