Judge finds father competent for trial in killings

Montgomery County man is charged with murder in drowning of his three children in a bathtub at Inner Harbor hotel

October 08, 2008|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,melissa.harris@baltsun.com

A Montgomery County man accused of drowning his children in a bathtub at an Inner Harbor hotel is competent to stand trial, dismiss his attorneys and plead guilty to the killings, a Baltimore Circuit judge ruled yesterday.

Mark Castillo, who is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, requested and was granted time to decide what he wants to do.

Judge Gale E. Rasin, however, said that she was reserving judgment on whether she would allow Castillo to represent himself at a trial, should he choose to plead not guilty.

Using a more conciliatory tone toward his attorneys than he had in previous hearings, Castillo, 42, told Rasin that he would either stick with his public defenders or have no representation at all.

Rasin explained to Castillo that his attorneys would be "very valuable," even if he pleaded guilty.

"At least give them a chance to talk to you," Rasin told him.

During previous hearings, Castillo interrupted his attorneys, challenged the judge and cried. Yesterday, he calmly stood between his attorneys, interrupting only once to object to their questioning of Dr. Annette Hanson, a forensic psychiatrist who had evaluated Castillo. The judge instructed Castillo to whisper his concerns to his lawyers. After a brief discussion, they resumed their questioning.

Hanson told Rasin that Castillo suffered from "major depression" and an unclassified "personality disorder." She said that Castillo was receiving 40 milligrams of the antidepressant Prozac per day and that the treatment appeared to be working because he was regaining his pre-depression willingness to "push limits," "challenge authority" and "fight," she said.

Castillo has confessed to killing his children Anthony, 6, Austin, 4, and Athena, 2, one by one in a bathtub at the Marriott Inner Harbor hotel in late March as revenge for a custody battle with his estranged wife, Amy Castillo.

His "willingness to accept responsibility for his actions would not be pathological, although it would be unusual," Hanson told Rasin.

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