Local News

DA Won't Seek Death Penalty in School Shooting Case

Posted May 23, 2007 6:58 a.m. EDT
Updated May 23, 2007 5:55 p.m. EDT

— 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.