Insanity plea repeated

Father accused of drowning his kids returns to original plea

January 14, 2009|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,

The Montgomery County man accused of drowning his three children, one by one, in the bathtub of an Inner Harbor Hotel filed an insanity plea yesterday - for the second time in an increasingly erratic defense.

Several months ago, Mark Castillo's case began with an insanity plea. His lawyers then withdrew the filing as Castillo launched a series of hysterics, efforts to fire his lawyers, and a public request to plead guilty and receive the death penalty.

Yesterday, the strategy came full circle as a calm, well-dressed Castillo stood by as his lawyer said she would renew the insanity plea. Castillo, 42, will undergo psychological evaluation by court medical staff - a review that was interrupted the first time around.

Castillo's courtroom behavior has been disruptive in recent months. During a divorce hearing late last year, he was Tasered after trying to leave a Montgomery County courtroom in frustration. He had made countless objections, sobbed and asked a judge to let him kiss his wife one last time in exchange for granting the divorce, according to The Washington Post.

Because of a gag order, attorneys are not permitted to discuss the criminal case.

In October, Baltimore Circuit Judge Gale E. Rasin deemed Castillo competent to stand trial - based on an assessment of his mental state at the time. An insanity plea, however, deals with Castillo's state of mind at the time the crimes were committed.

Castillo is charged with killing Anthony, 6; Austin, 4; and Athena, 2, at the Marriott Inner Harbor hotel in late March. He then tried to kill himself by swallowing 100 Motrin pills and cutting himself in the neck.

Authorities believe the violence was an act of retaliation against his estranged wife, Dr. Amy Castillo, during a custody and divorce battle. Amy Castillo attended the brief hearing yesterday. She did not comment afterward.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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