Courts & Crime

N. Carolina man obsessed with Columbine guilty in dad's death

HILLSBOROUGH — A jury found Alvaro Castillo guilty of murder and assault for killing his father and firing a rifle into Orange High School nearly three years ago.

The six men and six women deliberated for most of the day before knocking on the courtroom door to let Judge Allen Baddour know they had reached a verdict.

Their decision concludes a three-week trial that garnered national attention because of the defendant's obsession with the 1999 Columbine school shootings and other mass killings.

Locally, the case has raised concerns about the mental health care provided to Castillo in the weeks and months after a suicide attempt on the anniversary of the school killings in Littleton. Colo. It also has raised questions about a family that failed to notice the many red flags and cries for help from a mentally ill teen who slept with a gun, persuaded his mother to take him to see the Columbine school and paid several visits to a shooting range with his father in the weeks before the incident.

Castillo fatally shot his father, Rafael Huez Castillo, on Aug, 30, 2006, four months after his suicide attempt. He then wrote in his journal, made a video and drove the family mini-van to Orange High School, his alma mater, and set off smoke bombs and fired a rifle at two students. One student suffered a gunshot wound that did not require hospitalization. Another was injured by broken glass. At the school, Castillo's rifle jammed.

District Attorney Jim Woodall described Castillo's actions as vengeful and an attempt to gain notoriety and be included in a pantheon of school shooters and mass killers of the 20th and 21st century.

Defense lawyers James Williams and Phoebe Dee argued that Castillo was so severely mentally ill that on that day could not distinguish between right and wrong and therefore could not be held criminally responsible. They argued that Castillo was under the delusional belief that he was on a mission from God to sacrifice his father and "the children" at Orange High.

Shortly before lunch, jurors asked to see reports from mental health care workers who testified for the prosecution and defense. They also asked to see the video Castillo made after killing his father.

In that video, Castillo said "I killed my father. I sacrificed him," alluding to the "sacrifice" argument on which the defense built its case. In speech that sounds forced, he also said: "I'm not right in the head."Read the full story at newsobserver.com.

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