Turbulent hearing in children's drowning case

The Baltimore Sun

Mark Castillo, the man accused of drowning of his three children in the bathtub at an Inner Harbor Hotel, didn't feel like coming to court yesterday.

He cried, shook, covered his ears with his hands and smart-mouthed the judge, turning what was expected to be a perfunctory hearing into a two-hour battle of wills.

Castillo had been brought to court to confirm the written withdrawal of his insanity plea, which Baltimore Circuit Judge Gale E. Rasin granted in June.

But his transport from Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a state psychiatric facility, prevented the 42-year-old from receiving his Prozac. Castillo's attorneys warned Rasin that without his medication, their client was in no shape to appear before her.

Rasin, an expert on mental health law, pointed out that missing one dose of Prozac, which stays in one's system for about 21 days, should not be disruptive. She consulted with a psychiatrist at Perkins before she plowed forward, enduring Castillo's accusations that she had broken a promise to him.

"You can give me the death penalty if you want," Castillo told Rasin.

"I don't want to give you anything," Rasin said. "I'm just letting you know that you're not driving the train. I'm driving the train."

Castillo muttered, "Well, I'm not aboard."

When Rasin told him she was speaking slowly so he could understand, he stretched his response to a crawl - "T-h-a-n-k y-o-u." And after declaring himself "The Little Engine That Could," he stopped responding to her questions.

"Being upset doesn't stop the train," Rasin concluded.

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.

His murder trial is scheduled for January. If Castillo refiles his insanity plea, the trial likely will be postponed. At several hearings, Castillo has expressed a desire to fire his attorneys and plead guilty.

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