Crime

Prosecution: Castillo wasn't psychotic

As an Orange County deputy ushered Alvaro Castillo from the Sheriff's Department to a patrol car hours after he killed his father and opened fired on Orange High School, a TV reporter fired off a question about why he did it.

Castillo, his hands cuffed, looked toward the camera and said that his father had been mean and mistreated the family.

"He abused me," Castillo said.

Part of that WTVD news clip was played in Orange County Superior Court on Monday, the 11th day of testimony in the Castillo trial, as the case became a battle of mental health.

District Attorney Jim Woodall used the film clip to mount his rebuttal to the defense team's assertion that Castillo was so delusional and psychotic on Aug. 30, 2006, that he could not be held criminally responsible for the shootings.

The jury was out of the courtroom when the segment was played. But Woodall told Judge Allen Baddour that he planned to refer to the clip when he called a psychiatrist to the stand to testify as an expert for the state.

That psychiatrist said the tape showed Castillo as a teen who was "goal-oriented" and able to answer questions.

The defense, which contends Castillo is not guilty for reasons of insanity, presented testimony from a psychiatrist and psychologist who assessed the defendant months after the shootings and determined he suffered from delusions and psychoses.

An emergency room doctor who saw Castillo on the day of the shootings also concluded in a brief assessment that the defendant was psychotic that day.

But a UNC-Chapel Hill psychiatrist who analyzed Castillo after his suicide attempt on April 20, 2006, the anniversary of the Columbine school shootings, testified Monday that she did not find him to be psychotic in April, May or as late as June.

"It was my best judgment that he did not have psychotic tendencies," said Dr. Karen Graham, a psychiatrist who also works at Oasis, the outreach clinic where Castillo was referred after his release from UNC Hospitals.

Effort to leave Guard

Graham testified Monday that, although Castillo had mentioned Columbine after his suicide attempt, he seemed to be more concerned about getting out of duty with the National Guard.

In mid-May, Graham wrote a letter to the Guard for Castillo and alerted them to her concerns about his mental health and his request for a discharge.

By late June, Graham said Castillo had told a social worker at Oasis that he was concerned about continuing his treatment at the clinic in southern Orange County. The drive to and from the appointments took nearly an hour of his day, mental health workers reported him saying, and gas for the trip was costly.

Although Castillo had been approved for financial aid for care at Oasis, Graham said no one at the clinic could force him to get treatment there if he preferred to go elsewhere.

Misled about the guns?

She also testified that she was unaware that Castillo had guns in his home and that his mother had taken him to Littleton, Colo., to see the school and town where two students had killed 13 before taking their own lives.

While this was going on, Graham said, Castillo had told her that he no longer was suicidal and that he did not have homicidal thoughts. Her discussions with his family were limited because Castillo, an adult by law, would not give the mental health workers permission to discuss his case with anyone else.

Though the workers could cull information from the family, no one ever mentioned the guns in the home or on the trip, Graham said.

The Oasis clinic has come under scrutiny because of the testimony last week from a social worker at the Caring Family Network clinic in Hillsborough. Jill Dunn, a social worker who saw Castillo weeks before the shooting, said she thought he was psychotic and would be better treated at Oasis, a clinic for teens who exhibit early signs of schizophrenia.

Dunn testified that an Oasis social worker told her the clinic refused to take Castillo on again, that they questioned whether the defendant had been making up delusions about microphones in the house and pictures watching him to get out of a commitment to the National Guard.

Graham testified Monday that she had been on vacation when discussions about Castillo's return to Oasis had occurred and that she was not certain of what had been relayed to Dunn.

Graham added that it was unclear when she heard about the request on Aug. 10, 2006, whether Castillo was willing to return to Oasis.

As court broke for the day, Nicole Wolfe, a forensic psychiatrist with Dorothea Dix Hospital, had started to describe her analysis of Castillo in March 2008.

Baddour told the defense team and district attorney that he expected testimony to finish today. If that's the case, closing arguments would be set for Wednesday.

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