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Castillo wanted sacrifice, defense attorney says

Posted August 3, 2009
Updated August 4, 2009

— A man accused of killing his father and then opening fire outside Orange High School in 2006 was “severely mentally ill” and should not be found guilty, a defense attorney argued in opening statements at Alvaro Rafael Castillo’s trial Monday.

Castillo, 22, of Hillsborough, is charged with fatally shooting his father, Rafael Huezo Castillo, on Aug. 30, 2006, driving to Orange High and firing at the school. Two students suffered minor injuries before the gunman was tackled by school personnel.

Castillo has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to all charges.

Witnesses recall attack on Orange High Witnesses recall attack on Orange High

"He thought he had been chosen by God to sacrifice his father and others,” said defense attorney James Williams.

Castillo had a tough childhood, Williams said, which involved "chaos and discord in the family, threats of violence" and problems with seeing his father punish his mother.

In his opening statements, Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall gave jurors a synopsis of the day of the shooting and what Castillo is accused of doing.

"As soon as (Castillo) was subdued, he began making spontaneous statements," Woodall said. "He told officers that he had killed his father earlier in the day."

Authorities drove to the family home and found the body of Rafael Huezo Castillo covered in a sheet. He was fatally shot seven times – six times in the face and once in the shoulder near his neck, Woodall said.

The district attorney warned jurors that some of the evidence he plans to present will be difficult for them to see. He also outlined much of what was found in a journal apparently written by Castillo.

"He documents almost every (weapon) he purchased. He even put receipts in the journal," Woodall said. "He writes extensively about (Columbine High School shooter) Eric Harris and the mixed feelings he had."

Woodall said Castillo had "uneasiness about his sexuality" and his feelings for Harris.

Castillo publicly acknowledged after his arrest that he was obsessed with the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. Before the shooting, he sent an e-mail to the principal at Columbine High to announce his intention to commit a similar act and mailed a videotaped confession to a Chapel Hill newspaper.

Since his arrest, he has received treatment at Central Prison and Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh for mental issues. In February, Judge Allen Baddour ruled that he was competent to assist in his defense at trial.

Testimony began with witnesses who were at the school that day.

“I saw a man in a trench coat,” Beth Creech recalled. “He started to lower the gun towards the school and towards the kids.”

"We heard a serious of popping noises,” Michael Byers said.

Williams said Castillo struggled with depression and tried to kill himself before the attacks.

After police subdued him outside the school, witnesses recalled hearing him say the same thing over and over.

"He was asking, ‘Please kill me. I want to die. Please kill me,’” said then-principal Jeff Dishmon.

Castillo's trial is expected to last into next week.


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  • georgegray Aug 4, 2009

    With the arsenal that he had, I find it very hard to believe that he actually TRIED to kill himself before going on his tirade as stated by his attorney. It sounds to me like, if anything, he thought about suicide but couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger. But somehow he had no problem pointing the weapon at someone else and pulling the trigger. There are lots of people out there who had bad childhoods but aren't killers. This defense doesn't hold water.

  • SaveEnergyMan Aug 4, 2009

    tatermommy - you just gave me a serious flashback to the week I spent on jury duty in Orange County! And no, I was not gray haired and leftist (I was 21 at the time), but the rest of jury sure fit your description.

  • wcumom Aug 3, 2009

    "He was asking, ‘Please kill me. I want to die. Please kill me,’”


  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Aug 3, 2009

    I have a different thought about this. If he is "mentally ill", then no amount of psychological training will ever change this murderous person. This is EXACTLY the kind of person that should be put to death. If someone is a lost cause, and cannot be changed from their murderous ways, why maintain this person's life any longer than "tomorrow"?

  • 27615 Aug 3, 2009

    Defense: Accused school shooter was 'severely mentally ill'

    And?????????????? He Should Get Life In Prison or Death...Mentally Ill or Not!!!!!

  • whatusay Aug 3, 2009

    "Was severely mentally ill", but he is ok now.

  • VT1994Hokie Aug 3, 2009

    I don't believe this one. He is playing the system. He had a great lawyer. He looks stupid, but not crazy. He listened to everything intently. America--why are we letting this stuff happen????????????????????

  • countess Aug 3, 2009

    Crazy or not crazy, he needs to be locked op forever or better yet, get the death penalty ,so we don't have to feed and clothe him for the rest of his life. I have no pity for these people.

  • celong Aug 3, 2009

    how many times can you say death penalty. there's pleny more where he comes from too. quit taking care of these folks and do what is necessary.

  • Raleigh Boys Aug 3, 2009

    The O.C. Jail has the BEST fried chicken on Thursdays. Combine that with their free services -cable tv, air condition, work out gym, he will have a great time on our dime.