August 4, 2009
Posted: 08:19 PM ET
HILLSBOROUGH, North Carolina–On Wednesday jurors will hear evidence of a second crime scene—the family home where Alvaro Castillo shot his father, Rafael, seven times, mainly in the head and neck, on the morning of August 30, 2006, a few hours before he went to Orange High School and opened fire. Jurors are also expected to read Castillo’s disturbing diary entries.
Alvaro Castillo back in court for another day of testimony
The Orange County jury heard from 11 more witnesses on Tuesday, the second day of Castillo’s murder, assault and weapons trial. Castillo, 21, is accused of killing his father, confessing to it on a homemade video, then traveling to his former high school and opening fire on students having lunch outside. Two students were injured; none was killed.
Jurors saw the clothing Castillo wore to Orange High School on August 30, 2006 when he fired 15 rounds from a 9 mm semi-automatic rifle. Castillo wore a white Colorado tee shirt with the words “Natural Selection” handwritten in block letters across the lower front. On the back of the tee was handwritten in black ink: “Remember Columbine, April 20, 1999, Littleton, CO, I’m sorry for the pain.” The white headband he wore had red handwritten letters: “Shoot me” and “Columbine.” He also wore a black trench coat, military style boots, black cargo pants and a glove.
Photographs of the scene and items collected at the school were displayed to the jury. One officer held up the two guns Castillo carried–a 9 mm rifle and a shotgun with a sawed-off barrel. The officer carefully measured the barrel of the shotgun. It was 17 and 7/16 inches. Castillo faces three counts of possession of a weapon of mass destruction. One count is for the shotgun, the other two are for pipe bombs at the school and at his home.
Included in North Carolina’s definition of a “weapon of mass death and destruction” is a shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches in length.
Castillo had adorned the butt of his guns with photographs and name tags. On each gun he taped two photographs of Eric Harris, one of the Columbine shooters. One photo is of Harris holding a gun, the other is a headshot of Harris. On the rifle, he taped the name Anna in big letters written on a piece of white paper. He had a similar label on the shotgun but with the name Arlene. Anna is the name of a classmate he had a crush on in high school.
Jurors saw photographs of pipe bombs in Castillo’s van, smoke grenades, 176 live rounds of ammunition, 15 spent shell casings, and the actual cracked window with a bullet hole that authorities removed from Orange High School.
Tiffaney Utsman, a high school senior at the time, was standing by a window when she was knocked to the ground by what she described as a “silver object the size of a nickel.” She had an abrasion to her right upper chest which has left a small scar. She was in the area where a bullet went through a window but, assuming it was the bullet that hit her, it didn’t penetrate her skin. Police collected the item and jurors will have a chance to examine it.
Jurors also heard from the two men who apprehended Castillo within about two minutes: London Ivey, a deputy sheriff assigned to the high school, and Barry Russell LeBlanc, a retired state trooper who taught drivers’ education.
The day concluded with the testimony of Deputy Sheriff Jonathan Daniel, who was at the Sheriff’s office when Castillo was being processed after his arrest. Daniel also accompanied Castillo to and from a hospital where he was evaluated the same day.
Daniel described an extremely agitated Castillo who was shaking so uncontrollably that his fingerprints had to be retaken. Daniel recalled Castillo repeating: “Remember Columbine and it’s all about the sacrifice.” Castillo calmed down when he saw the television cameras as they left the stationhouse for the hospital. Once again, he yelled, this time to the cameras: “Remember Columbine.” But en route to the hospital, Castillo became agitated again and asked if they were being followed by the FBI. According to Daniel, at all times, Castillo appeared to understand him and was cooperative.
Castillo is asserting an insanity defense and has a history of mental illness. He is expected to present evidence of several diagnoses–major depression, psychosis, and schizo-affective disorder—reached by medical professionals in the months and weeks before the shootings.
Stay tuned to In Session for all the latest developments in this case.
–Beth Karas, In Session correspondent
Filed under: Uncategorized
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