Local News

DA Won't Seek Death Penalty in School Shooting Case

Posted May 23, 2007

— An Orange County man accused of killing his father and opening fire at a school will not face the death penalty.

Alvaro Castillo, 19, of Hillsborough, is charged with murder in the Aug. 30, 2006, shooting death of his father, Rafael Huezo Castillo, and faces several charges in connection with a shooting that injured two students the same day outside Orange High School.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall announced his decision Wednesday, saying Castillo's mother did not want her son to die.

Woodall said another factor in his decision was the status of the death penalty in the state.

"When one looks at the climate in North Carolina, right now, there's a real question if the death penalty even exists," Woodall said.

Executions are on hold because of the questions raised by several death-row inmates and their attorneys. Woodall said it is not right to seek the death penalty when prosecutors don't know what the outcome will be and because they are expensive to try.

Castillo's next court hearing is set for July 17. In past few months, the prosecution and defense have argued over evidence in the case and the status of Castillo's mental health. James Williams, who represents Castillo, said his client suffers from severe mental illness.

Detectives said Castillo sent a homemade video tape and a letter to a local newspaper the same day of the incident. On the tape, Castillo seems to become animated and agitated when talking about alleged abuse at the hands of his father.

Investigators also said Castillo sent an e-mail about the alleged rampage to the principal at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colo., where two gunmen shot 13 people before killing themselves in April 1999. In the e-mail, Castillo reveals his obsession with that massacre.

Castillo is currently being held at Central Prison.


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  • peace_of_mind May 24, 2007

    It is so sad that this "poor victim" can't be held accountable for his actions. (sarchasm)

  • RRsaidso May 24, 2007

    Go GoBoSox!

  • GoBoSox May 24, 2007

    The death penalty does not work in this country because there is no uniformity across states. Criminals don't fear what they know won't happen.

    If you steal from someone...you lose your hands.

    If you rape someone...you lose your "you know what".

    If you kill...you should be killed.

    Now having said that, these punishments can only be used in cases where there is absolutely no doubt that the person is guilty because yes, there actually are some innocent people in jail.

    As long as the criminals have more rights than the victims, things will never change.

  • nc lover May 24, 2007

    @Spiritwarrior - Sorry to hear that. Hope your feeling better.

  • nc lover May 24, 2007

    @The Professor - Their in a meeting. LOL

  • At Work May 24, 2007

    Ok I understand wanting to kill his father because of "abuse" but what ws the point of emailing the princeipal of columbine and than shooting up the school? The two has nothing to do with each other. I would like to hear what the mother says about his clamis of abuse, maybe that is the reason for her not wanting him to die because she may have known it was going on?????

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr May 24, 2007

    MVNull, it's all null and void, pun intended. It doesn't matter what the victim's wife wants, it's Orange County. No death penalty case ever, no need to put it in the news.

  • mvnull May 24, 2007

    "...Castillo's mother did not want her son to die." It is very very hard to get a capital sentence when the wife of the victim testifies for the defense during sentencing. The DA counts on the emotional distress of the victim's family to convince the jury to give the death sentence.

  • The Professor May 24, 2007

    Very difficult to have an exchange of ideas given WRAL's penchant for censorship anytime the story involves blacks or hispanics then falls asleep at the switch, in this case I am referring to the school bus driver incident, no new posts in about 1 hour. Very frustrating. The heck with this, I'm going to bed.

  • The Professor May 23, 2007

    The WRAL censors must be asleep, they haven't cleared a post in the school rage article in over 2 hrs. Anyone know their number?