Local News

Castillo's lawyers begin insanity defense

Posted August 10, 2009

— The lawyers for Alvaro Castillo on Monday began laying out the case that the Orange County man was insane three years ago when he allegedly killed his father and then shot at his former high school.

Castillo is charged with fatally shooting his father, Rafael Huezo Castillo, in August 2006 and then driving to Orange High School with a cache of weapons and opening fire. Two students were injured in the shooting, which ended when school personnel tackled him.

Castillo has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to all charges. After a week of prosecution witnesses, the defense called its first two witnesses Monday afternoon.

Capt. Charles Blackwood of the Orange County Sheriff's Office testified that he took Castillo into custody in April 2006 when responding to a report of shots fired. He said Castillo was wearing part of his National Guard dress uniform and was weeping and asking to die.

"He was distraught," Blackwood said. "There was a sense of urgency about him."

Blackwood said he called for an involuntary commitment to a psychiatric facility.

Jill Dunn, a clinical social worker who has examined Castillo, said he had planned to commit suicide to coincide with the seventh anniversary of the April 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado. She said he is obsessed with the Columbine case.

Dunn characterized Castillo as psychotic, noting he believes surveillance microphones monitor his moves and that a painting in his house watched him.

Before the prosecution rested its case, a gun shop employee testified Monday morning that Castillo went to a shooting range with his father about a month before the father's death.

Bill Mace, owner of Mace Sports Inc. in Mebane, identified papers documenting the sale of a Hi-Point 9 mm rifle and a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun to Castillo. The firearms were sold in June and July 2006.

Employee Eric Hinshaw testified that Castillo twice visited Handgunners Inc. in Burlington a few weeks before the shootings.

The first time, Hinshaw said, Castillo inquired about using the shooting range and tried to rent a handgun to practice. He was turned away because he was under age 21.

The second time, Castillo's father rented a lane in the shooting range, and the two practiced for about two hours, Hinshaw said. They used the 9 mm rifle and 12-gauge shotgun, and Castillo's father also rented a handgun, which they both fired, Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw held a Mossberg shotgun entered as a piece of evidence and identified it as the one used by Castillo at the shooting range.

Lt. Anthony Prignano, head of the Durham County Sheriff's Office's bomb squad, recalled finding seven explosive devices belonging to Castillo the day of the Orange High shooting.

Some of the devices were pipe bombs wrapped with metal and wood screws and were in Castillo's car parked at the school, Prignano said. Bomb technicians later blew up the devices.

Deborah Radisch, associate chief medical examiner in the State Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill, testified that Rafael Castillo was shot seven times, including five times in the face.

Attorneys for the state also distributed copies of an 18-page notebook for jurors to read. Castillo wrote about mass murders in the notebook.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • work in progress Aug 10, 2009

    The point in bringing up the fact that they practiced shooting so shortly before the murder, is the irony in the fact that the boy was probably envisioning his father's face as he target practiced. That's like me teaching my daughter how to tune up her car and she thinking the whole time how its going to feel as she runs over my body with that same car. Daddy unwittingly helped ensure that his son wouldn't miss. That's the sad part.

  • Jeremiah Aug 10, 2009

    "Why are there never any reports about addressing the primary issue behind any crime which is doing something about the general criminal element in society? "

    just for fun, how would you ohave done something about "the criminial element in society" in this case?

  • VT1994Hokie Aug 10, 2009

    This guy is not insane. He knew exactly what he was doing each step of the way. He is just a mean person that needs to spend his life behind bars. Never let him out. Or, save some monies and do the deal that he did.

  • jrfergerson Aug 10, 2009

    With people suffering from financial stress - I am suprised that more of this has not happened as of yet.

  • Axtel Aug 10, 2009

    This is terrible. I think all gun/rifle ranges need to be closed. This would not have happened if they were allowed to be open. Give him bond and set him free. It was not his fault. Nice headline wral...

  • rt71383mag Aug 10, 2009

    This is just another case of liberal bias slanted reporting aimed at further demonizing the sport of guns and shooting. Why are there never any reports about addressing the primary issue behind any crime which is doing something about the general criminal element in society? Because that would be logical and make sense and would not incorrectly polarize the uninformed masses. As long as the media and politicians can blame guns, not criminals and penalize law abiding gun owners, "feel good" legislation is alive and well and unproductive except in securing votes.

  • Jeremiah Aug 10, 2009

    "Would it make you feel any better, little girl, if they was pushed out of windows?"

    Exactly. This kid could have just as easily gone on a "push-people-out-the-window-rampage" that could have been just as deadly, if not deadlier.

  • discowhale Aug 10, 2009

    it wasn't going to the range that made this kid snap. If that was the case, millions of us would be snapping daily.

    If this isn't a case of the media putting GUNS, GUN SHOPS, PRACTICE RANGE OPERATORS on trial as the bad guys, I don't know what is. And we keep hearing how he was obsessed with Columbine. So?

    I'll bet he had PLENTY of instances showing he was coming apart, before he killed his father. The boys at Columbine were bade news before they committed their crimes, there are cries for help and markers for kids who have problems, was Castillo any different?

    And finally, on this kid shooting his father, in the words of Archie Bunker to his daughter,

    "Would it make you feel any better, little girl, if they was pushed out of windows?"

    Dead is dead, murder is murder, moving the guilt from the murderer to the device used, is ridiculous. Do you blame GM or the local car lot, when someone is killed by a drunk driver?

  • 27615 Aug 10, 2009

    insantity in my mind doesn't let you off the hook. If your capable of murder you should be in jail (not a mental hospital) for life or executed.

  • Jeremiah Aug 10, 2009


    oh come on now. you don't find it ironic that his shot his dad, who took him to the shooting range a month earlier?