After being indicted on 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felonious assault, one count of possession of criminal tools, and two counts of aggravated murder, Ariel Castro has entered a not-guilty plea.
While in the U.S. legal system, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty and has the right to a fair trial, Castro has an overwhelming amount of evidence against him. He not only should be mentally terrorized by the monstrosities he has committed, but he should be ashamed that he had the audacity to deny having done the crimes.
How will this plea change the results of the trial? Quite honestly, for someone who is guilty, pleading innocence should have no impact on the results at all. If this is the case, why then would Ariel Castro decide to enter a “not guilty” plea?
First, a defendant who enters a non-guilty plea despite truly being culpable for the charges placed against him or her is not subject to perjury, as he or she is not testifying under oath at the time of entering the plea. By pleading “not guilty”, the defendant is essentially calling on the prosecutor to provide evidence that establishes every component of the charge against him or her beyond a reasonable doubt. Considering that Castro’s charges account for only half of the 10 years he held the three women captive and that there is evidence available from his home and the victims’ accounts, it should not be too difficult to prove that he is guilty.
However, Castro’s decision to enter a “not guilty” plea was likely a tactic aimed at having the opportunity to do some plea bargaining. No one wants to weather a trial that could take months or even years to figure out. All involved in the trial know this “not guilty” plea will only be a menace that can take an excessive amount of time and money. Therefore, the prosecutor may feel compelled to offer a plea bargain, an action that would result in a lesser sentence for Castro which would probably mean he would be completely safe from receiving the death sentence.
If Castro’s stubbornness results in the necessity of Berry, DeJesus, and Knight testifying, I will be extremely angered. These women will never be able to erase those 10 years of horror from their memory and they should not have to live through them again in court. Instead of waiting on the prosecutor to offer a bargain, Castro needs to pull himself together, own up to his despicable behavior, and accept whatever sentence the court has in store for him.