(CNN) Ariel Castro agreed Friday in an Ohio courtroom to a plea deal in one of the most sensational kidnapping cases in recent memory. The deal reached with prosecutors would let him avoid the possibility of a death sentence and spare his victims from having to testify at a trial.
The plea deal recommends that he be sentenced to life in prison without parole that he never get a parole hearing. It would also mean that a trial Castro was facing on August 5 would not happen and he would not face the possibility of being sentenced to death. Judge Michael J. Russo went over the deal with Castro and told him that he would be labeled as a sexual predator.
Castro replied that he understood. At one point he interjected that he was also a victim as a child to which Russo responded that he could make whatever statement he wanted during the sentencing hearing. Russo also said that victims would be notified of the hearing and also would then have a chance to say what they liked.
Russo went through charges Castro faces relating to the allegations he held three women captive for a decade and asked him how he pleaded.
Over and over Castro replied Guilty.Amanda Berry speaks in a video released on YouTube on Monday July 8 thanking people for support and privacy. Berry Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight escaped from a Cleveland home on May 6 after being held captive for nearly a decade. Amanda Berry vanished a few blocks from her Cleveland home on April 21 2003. She was 16. Gina DeJesus speaks in the YouTube video. Georgina Gina DeJesus was last seen in Cleveland on April 2 2004 on her way home from school. She was 14 when she went missing. Michelle Knight speaks in the YouTube video. Michelle Knight was last seen on August 22 2002 when she was 21. Residents gather outside a community meeting at Immanuel Lutheran Church on Thursday May 9 to talk about the kidnapping case in Cleveland. Balloons were released as part of the ceremony. FBI agents and other law enforcement officers stand outside suspect Ariel Castro's home in Cleveland on May 9. Castro a former school bus driver has been accused of holding three women captive for a decade in his house. He has also been charged with rape. Castro hangs his head low while talking with his public defender Kathleen DeMetz during his arraignment on May 9. Ada Colon prays during a vigil held in honor of the kidnapping victims in Cleveland on Wednesday May 8. Relatives of kidnapping victim Georgina Gina DeJesus hug after she returned to her parents' home in Cleveland on May 8. Friends and neighbors cheer as a car carrying Amanda Berry arrives at her sister's house in Cleveland on May 8. Gina DeJesus gives a thumbs up as she arrives at her family's house in Cleveland on May 8. Ariel Castro was charged on May 8 with kidnapping the three women. The family house of Gina DeJesus has been decorated by well wishers on Tuesday May 7. Friends and relatives gather in front of the family house of DeJesus on May 7. Well wishers visit the home of the sister of Amanda Berry on Monday May 6. Investigators remove evidence from the house on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland where the three women were held. An FBI forensics team meets outside the house where three women were held as they investigate the property. An FBI forensics team member removes evidence from the house. A relative of DeJesus brings balloons to the home of Amanda Berry's sister in Cleveland on May 7. Children hold a sign and balloons in the yard of Gina DeJesus' family home in Cleveland on May 7. Bystanders and media gather on May 7 along Seymour Avenue in Cleveland near the house where the three women were held captive. A bystander shows the front page of The Plain Dealer newspaper to a friend outside of the house on Seymour Avenue on May 7. Cleveland Deputy Chief of Police Ed Tomba center speaks at a news conference to address details of the developments. The house where the three women were held captive in Cleveland was the home of Ariel Castro who was arrested and is being held pending charges in the case. FBI agents remove evidence from the house May 7. A police officer stands in front of the broken front door of the house on May 7 where the kidnapped women escaped. Neighbor Charles Ramsey talks to media as people congratulate him on helping the kidnapped women escape on Monday May 6. He helped knock down the door after he heard screaming inside. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 Photos Kidnapped teens rescued Ariel Castro accepts plea deal Source Castro has been offered plea deal Ariel Castro attorneys signal plea deal
At another moment in the hearing which lasted well over an hour the judge asked Castro how good his English is.
Castro replied that he is good at spelling and reading but his comprehension is bad because my addiction to pornography and my sexual problem has really taken a toll on my mind.
Timeline Three Cleveland girls go missing
An attorney for three women had told CNN that they were hoping for a plea deal because they did not want to take the stand at Castro's trial.
A law firm representing Michelle Knight Amanda Berry and Georgina Gina DeJesus issued a statement after Castro agreed to a plea.
Amanda Gina and Michelle are relieved by today's plea according to Jones Day. They are satisfied by this resolution to the case and are looking forward to having these legal proceedings draw to a final close in the near future.
The women want to remain private and don't want to speak to media or others the statement said but they're grateful for the support they've received from family and friends and the Cleveland Courage Fund which has helped raise money for them.
With help women freed
Castro's defense attorneys had previously said they wanted a deal that would take capital punishment out of the equation.
Castro was charged with 977 counts including aggravated murder on suspicion of ending the pregnancy of one of his captives. Under the deal he agreed to plead guilty to 937 counts.
Russo told Castro that the deal would mean he would go to prison for life plus at least 1 000 years.
Earlier this month the former bus driver had pleaded not guilty to the 977 charges. He was being held on $8 million bail.
At the close of Friday's hearing Russo remanded Castro back into custody and set a sentencing date for August 1.
Castro abducted Knight Berry and DeJesus separately in a two year period starting in 2002 according to authorities.
Snapshots Who are the three women
The women and Berry's 6 year old daughter DNA tests have confirmed that Castro is the child's father were freed in May after one of the women shouted for help while Castro was away from his 1 400 square foot home.
The cries for help were heard by neighbor Charles Ramsey who was sitting down to eat.
Read more Charles Ramsey I'm no hero
I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of a house he told CNN affiliate WEWS. I go on the porch and she says 'help me get out. I've been in here a long time.'
Finally free Berry pleaded for a phone.
Read more Another person says he played key role
Help me I am Amanda Berry she told police in a frantic 911 call from a neighbor's house. I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here I'm free now.
Under the plea deal the house where the women were confined will be demolished Russo said.
Berry was last seen after finishing her shift at a Burger King in Cleveland in 2003. It was the eve of her 17th birthday.
DeJesus disappeared nearly a year later in April 2004. She was 14.
Knight vanished in 2002 at age 21 according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.
Read more Freed women reunite with families
In early July Berry DeJesus and Knight released a YouTube video offering their thanks to all those who have helped them since they were freed.
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.
Read more Thank you video from kidnap victims
CNN's Ronni Berke contributed to this report.