Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dad pleads guilty to drowning three kids (Baltimore, Maryland)

Dad MARK CASTILLO has entered a guilty plea in the drowning murders of his three children. The mom had fought hard with the courts to keep him from having unsupervised visitation, but the courts ignored her.

Castillo Pleads Guilty To Drowning Kids
Slayings Occurred At Harbor Hotel In March 2008
POSTED: 10:51 am EDT October 14, 2009
UPDATED: 2:19 pm EDT October 14, 2009

BALTIMORE -- A Maryland man has pleaded guilty to drowning his three children in a Baltimore hotel bathtub, a sudden development in a trial that was delayed several times and saw erratic courtroom behavior from the suspect.

Mark Castillo entered the plea Wednesday in a Baltimore city courtroom, about 18 months after the slayings at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor on Eutaw Street.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and will serve three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, 11 News learned. The judge is recommending he serve his time at the Patuxent Institute and will request that Castillo be enrolled in some sort of therapy program.

Mark Castillo was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his children, 6-year-old Anthony, 4-year-old Austin and 2-year-old Athena in March 2008.

Jury selection started in the case last week. Castillo had originally pleaded not criminally responsible before changing his plea Wednesday, just before a jury panel was to be brought into the courtroom.

11 News reporter Barry Simms said a judge asked Castillo if he was pleading guilty because he committed the slayings and that Castillo replied, "Yes, your honor." He had not discussed the plea with his attorneys, Simms reported.

Castillo was charged in the deaths of his children, 6-year-old Anthony, 4-year-old Austin and 2-year-old Athena in March 2008.

Police said Castillo told investigators he drowned the children, then tried to overdose on an over-the-counter pain reliever and stabbed himself in the neck with a steak knife.

The 43-year-old Castillo has a history of mental illness and had been involved in a custody dispute with his former wife.

He calmly described how he drowned the children one by one in a taped interview with police that was played in court last week.

The trial had been postponed several times.

Castillo behaved erratically during court sessions and showed frustration with the slow pace of the proceedings. He tried at one point to fire his public defenders, but later changed his mind.

In December, he was subdued with a stun gun during a divorce hearing. That occurred after he tried to leave while the hearing was in progress.

The drownings were discovered on a Sunday. Police Commissoner Fred Bealefeld said the father was supposed to return his kids to their mother the previous night. The mother called Montgomery County authorities when that didn't happen, Bealefeld said.

Bealefeld said Castillo and the children spent time that Saturday at the Inner Harbor before checking in to the hotel.