Meet the judge who sentenced Ariel Castro
(CNN) — Judge Michael Russo’s no-nonsense court demeanor took center stage Thursday as he sentenced the Ohio man accused of kidnapping, raping and torturing three women to life plus 1,000 years behind bars, with no chance of parole.
Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to 937 charges resulting from holding the women captive for a decade in his home in Cleveland. At his sentencing hearing Thursday, Castro gave a lengthy statement in which he said that he is “sick” and “not a monster.”
The judge appeared to be unmoved by Castro’s words, and matter-of-factly handed down a severe sentence that will likely make Castro a prisoner for the rest of his days.
“Excuses don’t take away the harm that’s involved,” Russo said. “You have extreme narcissism and it seems rather pervasive.”
Russo, who has 10 years of experience as judge, told the court Thursday that he’d reviewed other sentences he had imposed in cases similar to Castro’s, and he said that the other sentences were “nothing like this.”
He has served as a judge in the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Common Pleas Court since 2003. Before becoming a judge, Russo worked as a prosecutor for Cuyahoga County in the criminal division, and before that he was worked in the litigation department for the law firm Ulmer & Berne.
Russo passed the Ohio bar exam in 1985 after graduating from Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Dallas in 1978, graduating magna cum laude.