Local News

Castillo's lawyers begin insanity defense

Posted August 10, 2009 9:13 a.m. EDT
Updated August 10, 2009 6:55 p.m. EDT

— 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.