Not-responsible plea in killings

CRIME WATCH

May 20, 2008

The Montgomery County man charged with drowning his three children in a Baltimore hotel bathtub during a custody battle with his estranged wife pleaded not criminally responsible to the charges during a brief hearing yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Mark Castillo, 41, has confessed to the killings, according to court documents. He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Anthony, 6; Austin, 4; and Athena, 2. Their bodies were found March 30 after police said Castillo called the front desk from his room in the Marriott hotel in the Inner Harbor.

Yesterday, Castillo stood with his head bowed and cried during his arraignment. He wore a bright pink bracelet on one of his wrists, indicating he was receiving medication.

He will undergo a psychological evaluation by court medical staff. If Court Medical Services finds Castillo not criminally responsible, prosecutors said they would not contest the finding. Castillo's defense attorney could still argue that her client didn't commit the killings, but if found guilty and not criminally responsible, Castillo would be committed to a psychiatric hospital, rather than prison.

His wife, Amy Castillo, had fought repeatedly in Montgomery County courts to keep her husband away from his children, citing alleged threats. But judges repeatedly ruled against petitions for a protective order and to curtail the visitation rights the couple had originally agreed upon.

Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy has not decided whether to seek life without parole or the death penalty in the case, her spokeswoman Margaret T. Burns said yesterday.

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