By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 4, 2008
The Montgomery County man accused of drowning his three young children in a Baltimore hotel bathtub said in court yesterday that he wanted to dismiss his attorney, the second such request in less than a month.
The request strengthened the judge's belief that Mark Castillo needs a psychiatric evaluation. Castillo, charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his children March 29, was ordered by the judge to undergo an exam at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup.
If doctors conclude that he understands what is going on, he could face trial this fall. Castillo has told investigators that he used a stopwatch as he drowned his children one by one, in part to spite his estranged wife, according to sources close to the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because it is ongoing.
If doctors conclude that Castillo isn't mentally fit to stand trial, he could be transferred from the Baltimore jail to Perkins, a state-run secure facility. He then could be tried if his condition improved.
In court yesterday, Castillo shuffled in with leg chains clinking as he did Aug. 22, when he told Circuit Court Judge Gale E. Rasin that he wanted to represent himself and plead guilty.
Yesterday, he wasn't as curt with the judge or his attorney. Rasin asked him whether he understood the proceeding.
"Yes, ma'am, I do," Castillo said. "I just object to it."
She asked him whether he had thought at all during the past two weeks about his desire to represent himself.
"No, ma'am," Castillo said, barely audible.
"Are you still sticking with the request that you want to discharge the public defender?" Rasin asked.
"Yes, your honor," Castillo said.
Rasin made it clear that she would move carefully, telling Castillo that she didn't want him to regret not getting good counsel.
"You're facing, at this juncture, life without parole," Rasin said. "And that's a long time to sit and stew" in prison "and relive this and think about this in a different way."