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Orange school shooter: 'Now I realize what I did was wrong'

Posted August 21, 2009
Updated August 22, 2009

— A jury on Friday found an Orange County man guilty of killing his father and shooting at Orange High School three years ago.

Jurors deliberated almost seven hours before convicting Alvaro Castillo on 10 charges: first-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, two counts of having a weapon on educational property, three counts of possessing weapons of mass destruction and one count each of firing into occupied property and discharging a weapon on educational property.

Castillo trial, afternoon session, 8/3/09 Castillo sentenced to life in prison

Castillo, 22, was arrested Aug. 30, 2006, after he drove to Orange High with a cache of weapons and opened fire. Two students were injured in the school shooting, which ended when school personnel tackled him.

While they were investigating the shooting, Orange County deputies discovered the body of Castillo's father, Rafael Huezo Castillo, in the family's home. He had been shot several times.

"I know that, as a result of my actions, I shocked and hurt a lot of people. That wasn't my intention. I simply wanted to help," Castillo said before he was sentenced. "Now I realize that what I did was wrong, and I'm willing to do whatever is necessary."

Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour sentenced Castillo to the mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole for murder. He imposed two consecutive sentences of 25 to 39 months each on the assault with a deadly weapon charges, and he recommended that Castillo receive mental health treatment in prison.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall requested the consecutive sentences, calling the shootings "very brutal crimes."

Verdict in Castillo trial Jury convicts Castillo of murder, school shooting

Castillo had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to all charges, and his lawyers presented testimony during the three-week trial from mental health experts and social workers who said he was psychotic at the time of the shootings.

The defense witnesses testified that Castillo was obsessed with school shootings, especially the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, and that he had the delusion that he was saving people from lives of worldly pain and suffering by shooting them.

After the sentencing, defense attorney James Williams said he was disappointed with the verdict, saying there was plenty of evidence that Castillo has suffered from mental illness for several years.

"This is a case where someone fell through the cracks in a lot of respects," he said.

Woodall argued during the trial that Castillo planned the attacks to gain notoriety and join the ranks of infamous school shooters. He showed jurors hours of videotapes Castillo made in the weeks before the shootings in which he explained his reasons for planning and carrying out the attacks.

Woodall said the videos and journals Castillo kept demonstrated he knew what he was doing, and Castillo's repeated attempts to seek forgiveness from his family showed he knew what he did was wrong.

"He wants fame. He's got to kill somebody, and he's got to do in a way that gets attention," Woodall told jurors in his closing argument Thursday.

Jurors reviewed two of the videos, as well as reports filed by mental health experts for both the prosecution and defense, during their deliberations.

Defense attorney James Williams contended that the planning was driven by Castillo's belief that God had spared him in a failed suicide attempt in April 2006 to carry out a grander plan.

“The premise that someone sick or delusional can’t plan is totally untenable,” Williams said during his closing argument. “He had to get done what he felt God wanted him to do.”

Williams said Castillo developed a mental illness to "psychically survive" verbal and physical abuse his domineering father dished out to everyone in the family.

Woodall said the defense "demonized" Rafael Castillo to make his death easier for jurors to excuse. He said the fact that Rafael Castillo was shot five times in the face showed his son wanted to exact revenge on him, not save him from misery.

"We need to think about Rafael Castillo," he said after the sentencing. "He was brutally murdered, and he did not deserve that."


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  • Diabolical Aug 21, 2009

    You always see the odd ball out child... shooting up the schools ... Never some cheerleader or some Jock or some popular child shooting up the school. Hmm... wonder why??

  • jetset Aug 21, 2009

    Just because someone is bullied or doesn't "get along" with their parents in no reason to kill someone! I personally think some people do not understand when you shoot someone they don't come back to life like it is on a video game. Also, I think some people do not fear punishment from doing wrong. My own personal opinion for what it is worth.

  • Diabolical Aug 21, 2009

    Parents needs to change their kids and their actions. Some kids are just plain bully's for the heck of it. And it's those bully's who mold these kids, turning them into psycho's. Some people don't understand it and just want to hang the kid because there is NO EXCUSE for this kind of thing....but I understand his position. Stuff like this don't just happen over night. Or one freakish ghoulish morning. This kid probably had to go years from grade school and up dealing with these same kids and the same garbage on a daily basis and in the moment of heat just snapped and got fed up and said "I'm going to show them" and that's exactly what he did. Only his problem he got caught and missed himself because he was probably to chicken to go through with it. Anybody who has ever been bullied in life knows the exact position of what this kid feels. Grade school, Jr. High and high school are the worse. Once you get into college it's not too bad. Kids finally grow up, some do anyway. lol

  • LEOsprtr Aug 21, 2009

    I find it disturbing that some people actually feel sorry for this murderer and are concerned with his needs. The man deserves his life sentence, never to be free again.

    If our society continues to be more concerned with the needs of criminals, whether they have mental illness or not, we are in store for serious trouble.

    I am glad the jury did the right thing.

  • shortcake53 Aug 21, 2009

    Yay, its finally over and with the correct verdict. Thank you jurors.

  • emeraldangeleyes Aug 21, 2009

    if he knew what he did was wrong then his insanity plea isnt worth much. some who is insane cannot tell right from wrong.

  • Diabolical Aug 21, 2009

    IMO:There is a reason these kids go around shooting in schools. It's the way other kids treat them. Some kids just have no heart, while others don't worry about the consequences of what they do to others, some are just plain mean to others for no reason at all. I mean look at the kid, you don't think he didn't go through hell in school?? I'm sure he had a tough time with kids picking on him on a daily basis and probably just got fed up like the other kids. I doubt this had anything to do with trying to get 5 minutes of fame. Jocks and cheerleaders are always the worse when it comes to picking on other students. Maybe that is one reason why he was such a follower in the columbine school shooting. And I'm sure he didn't live a happy home life either which is why he probably shot his dad. He was probably a lot closer to his mother than his father which is why the father was shot and not the mother.It may not be a good reason for him to do it.I guarantee that is the real reason behind it.

  • bobbythreesticks Aug 21, 2009

    This guy needs help; help getting on to the lethal injection gurney.

  • ballyhoo21 Aug 21, 2009

    For the insane defense to work the defense has to show that the person has a mental disease and does not know what they are doing is wrong.
    This fellow knew what he did was wrong so I am glad he was convicted especially in Orange County.
    He needs to spend the rest of his life in prison. Just think what would have happened if he had got into the school.

  • BikerDoc Aug 21, 2009

    For those who think he should be sent somewhere other than prison...that's not an option. He's been found guilty, hence, he comes to prison. They'll take good care of him there, and make sure whatever mental health needs he has are addressed. Barring some appeal that results in a new trial or re-sentencing, NCDOC will provide him with accommodations for hopefully many years to come.