By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 8, 2008
A Montgomery County man accused of drowning his three young children in a hotel bathtub is fighting his wife's efforts to divorce him and intends to question her about donations she received after the children were slain.
Mark Castillo, who has said he killed the children in part to spite her, is challenging the terms of a divorce agreement he signed in September while being held at the state's forensic psychiatric hospital awaiting trial.
At a recent hearing in the divorce case, Castillo appeared to suggest that he might seek a portion of the money his wife received during an outpouring of public sympathy, as well as retirement savings and unspecified insurance money.
Amy Castillo declined to be interviewed for this article. Zeke Wharton, a friend who has served as her spokesman, described the divorce proceeding as "very frustrating."
"Dragging this out only serves to prolong the grieving," he said.
"Certainly he is slowing down this process," Wharton said. "In his position, he should be as accommodating as possible."
Mark Castillo is representing himself in the divorce proceeding. His public defender has not commented in the past, citing a gag order in the criminal case, and a spokeswoman for her office declined to comment on the divorce proceedings.
The Castillos married a decade ago. They separated in 2006 and began a lengthy and often contentious custody dispute over their children.
In March this year, Mark Castillo drove the children -- Anthony, 6, Austin, 4, and Athena, 2 -- to Baltimore and checked into a hotel near the Inner Harbor. He ordered room service and then drowned them, one by one, in the bathtub, police say.
Castillo then stabbed himself in the neck repeatedly with a steak knife, drifted into unconsciousness, woke up and swallowed upward of 100 Motrin and Aleve pills, police said.
Castillo, 42, is charged with three counts of murder.
On June 4, Amy Castillo amended her existing divorce claim against Mark Castillo, citing the killings. "There is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation," her attorney wrote.
As her husband's case proceeded toward trial, Amy Castillo prepared a divorce settlement, secured his signature while he was in the psychiatric hospital and filed it in Circuit Court on Sept. 15.
As part of the agreement, Amy Castillo was to retain or be given sole ownership of their house, its furnishings and a minivan. She agreed to send $7,000 to Mark Castillo's family, which he could then use to settle personal debts, according to the filing.
In court last month, Mark Castillo asked to be allowed to discuss various assets at a future hearing and said he had signed the agreement "under duress."
"We never talked about insurance; we never talked about 401," he said, apparently referring to retirement savings. "Once we talked about just the $7,000 settlement. When she brought that in, she added the other ones, and I just signed it."
Mark Castillo also accused his wife of withholding information in the divorce case, complaining to a family court official at a hearing last month that his wife "has not filed answers on my interrogatories and discovery request."
Castillo spoke about the donations his wife received.
"It's my understanding, your honor, that she had Web sites put up for the children claiming she needed money for the children, and that's a large amount," he said Oct. 17 before Charles M. Cockerill, the court official presiding over the hearing.
A Web site was actually set up by Amy Castillo's friends, who said they did so because she would not ask for money.
As Cockerill tried to set a hearing date, asking Amy Castillo about her availability, Mark Castillo became testy.
"How come you're not asking me?" he asked.
"You don't have a conflict," Cockerill said.
"I don't matter?"
"No. No," Cockerill said. "I think I know that you'll be in custody somewhere."