CLEVELAND - Cleveland kidnapping survivor Michelle Knight gave a highly emotional, tearful victim impact statement during Ariel Castro's sentencing Thursday.
The woman, held captive the longest in Castro's Seymour Avenue home, directed some of her statements at her former captor.
"You took 11 years of my life away, and now I have it back," she told the court, before continuing with, "I spent 11 years in hell, and now yours is just beginning."
Another statement referred to her helplessness while in captivity, saying "Days never got shorter. Days turned into nights, nights turned into days, years turned into eternity."
Knight also spoke of the friendship forged with fellow victim, Gina DeJesus. "My friendship with her was all that was good about the situation. We said someday we'd make it out alive, and we did."
Prior to Knight, relatives of Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry also spoke. DeJesus's cousin, Sylvia Colon, promised the court that Gina is improving, and doing regular things such as laughing, dancing, swimming and being loved.
She addressed Castro personally, in Spanish, before sitting down.
Berry's sister, Beth Serrano, then addressed the judge. She made a plea for Berry's daughter's privacy and safety, saying, "Amanda could not control anything for a long time. Can she have control over this?"
Michelle Knight statement:
My name is Michelle Knight. I missed my son every day. I wondered if I was ever going to see him again. He was only 2 1/'2 when I was taken. I look inside my heart and I see my son and I cried every night. I was so alone. I worried about what would happen to me and the girls every day. Years turn into eternity. I knew no one cared about me. I knew my family don't care. Christmas was a most traumatic day because I could not spend it with my son.
Gina was my teammate. she never let me fall.. and I never let her fall. My friendship to her was the only thing good out of this situation. We said some day we would make it out alive and we did. Ariel Castro, I remember all the times you came home .. and talked about other things and said at least I didn’t kill you. You took 11 years of my life away and I have got it back. I spent 11 years in hell and now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome this. From this moment on, I won't let this affect me. I will live and you will die a little every day as you think about it.
What does God think about you going to church every Sunday and coming home to torture us?
You deserve to spend life in prison. I can forgive you but won't forget. In writing this statement gave me the strength to be a stronger woman. I know there is more good than evil. A lot of people go thru hard times and we need to reach out to help them. I’m finally being heard and it's liberating. Thanks to you all and God bless you.
Gina DeJesus represented by cousin Sylvia Colon:
“We would like to thank the honored judge Michael Russo, prosecutor McGinty and staff, along with defense team for an accelerated resolution to the Ariel Castro case. Today, we will close this case. To family: We love you, to neighbors, police, FBI and attorneys, the great City of Cleveland and too many others to name, thank you and God bless you.
To the Castro family – we do not hold you accountable and pray you can one day be whole again.
Our family recognizes it is not for us to judge- only a higher power can do that.
Today is the last day we want to think or talk about this. These events will not hold a place in our hearts. We will continue to live and love. Our beloved family member thrives, she laughs, swims, she will finish school, go to college and fall in love if she chooses… will marry and have children if she chooses.
She lives not as a victim but as a survivor. We ask that you continue to give her and our family privacy. To Ariel Castro…(faces Castro) ….in Spanish… ‘May God have mercy on your soul."
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