Local News

Psychiatrist: Castillo's shootings not 'sacrifice'

Posted August 19, 2009 9:48 a.m. EDT
Updated August 19, 2009 3:29 p.m. EDT

— An Orange County man accused of killing his father and opening fire on his former high school three years ago wasn't delusional at the time, a forensic psychiatrist testified Wednesday.

Alvaro Castillo, 22, is charged with fatally shooting his father, Rafael Huezo Castillo, on Aug. 30, 2006, and then driving to Orange High School with a cache of weapons and opening fire. Two students were injured in the school shooting, which ended when school personnel tackled the gunman.

Castillo has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations in the case Thursday, following closing arguments by Orange County District Attorney James Woodall and defense attorneys.

Prosecutors called Dr. Nicole Wolfe, who interviewed Castillo and read his journals, to refute defense experts who said Castillo was psychotic at the time of the shootings.

Wolfe said she doesn't believe Castillo had a break in reality, noting he made a series of choices in the weeks and months leading up to the shootings. She cited examples like his withholding information from mental health experts who treated him after a failed suicide attempt in April 2006 and a trip to Colorado to visit the site of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.

Although defense experts testified that Castillo suffered from hallucinations, Wolfe said she believed they were fantasies. While defense experts said he was paranoid, she testified that he was only being careful not to be detected before he could carry out the shootings.

Castillo repeatedly said in his journals and in homemade videos before the shootings that he planned to "sacrifice" people to save them from worldly pain and suffering. Defense experts said that showed he couldn't distinguish right from wrong.

Wolfe said Castillo's expressions of remorse over the shootings and his efforts to seek forgiveness demonstrate he understood what he was doing. She also testified that he wasn't sacrificing anything because he wasn't giving up anything of value.

"When you look at what was destroyed, it was the least favorite person on his family," she testified. "As for the school, there was careful attention as to who was not shot."

Wolfe pointed to the fact that Castillo purposely tried to avoid harming the sister of a girl he had been obsessed with and also didn't shoot a deputy who confronted him.

"A delusional person is not going to arbitrarily stop their act," she said.

Wolfe said Castillo idolized school shooters and said he planned and carried out the Orange High shooting to join their ranks.

"He wants to be known as a mass murderer and school shooter," she said. "He wanted to imitate what other people had done, and he wanted to be part of that cluster."