By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The man accused of drowning his three children in a hotel bathtub was zapped with a Taser in a Montgomery County courtroom yesterday after he told a judge that he was "done" with a hearing related to his divorce, then struggled with deputies trying to subdue him.
Mark Castillo, 42, had just raised one of many objections -- almost all of which were overruled by Montgomery County Circuit Judge Ronald B. Rubin -- when he abruptly stood up and said: "I'm done, your honor. I'm done." As he turned toward the door of the seventh-floor courtroom in Rockville, three deputies forced him back into his seat and tried to handcuff him. When Castillo resisted, a deputy shot him in the shoulder with a Taser.
"Put your hands behind your back," the deputy warned as Castillo fell to his stomach behind the table where, minutes earlier, he had been questioning his wife, Amy Castillo, in divorce proceedings.
"Let's just get him out of here," another deputy said.
The outburst marked the high point -- although not the end -- of the turbulent hearing, which was unrelated to the criminal charges Mark Castillo will face in the March 29 deaths of his three children: Anthony, 6, Austin, 4, and Athena, 2.
The end came when Mark Castillo dropped all of his objections and the judge finalized the couple's divorce.
Mark Castillo, who is accused of drowning the children one by one in the bathtub of a Baltimore hotel, had challenged the terms of a divorce agreement he signed in September. He argued yesterday that he agreed to it under duress and that his wife removed a handwritten portion near his signature that stated as much.
He displayed a range of emotions in court -- sometimes politely and intelligently questioning the judge on legal matters, and other times sobbing, closing his eyes and refusing to acknowledge direct questions. He seemed especially concerned whether documents were originals or copies, at one point asking his wife to tell him whether the date on a piece of paper had been handwritten or photocopied.
When she responded that it had been written, he said, "Gotcha, hon," then began a tirade after being chastised by the judge.
"Your honor, I've dealt with this for 20 months," he said. "All I want to do is go be with my children." He made similar references to his own death throughout the hearing.
Amy Castillo, 43, was far more composed, even as she faced an interrogation from the man accused of killing her children. She seemed to regard her estranged husband with a puzzled sadness, furrowing her brow and blinking intently as she tried to fight back tears and follow his scattered line of questioning.
By the end of the hearing, an exhausted Mark Castillo had dropped all of his objections to the agreement, even suggesting that the parties simply go ahead and make the divorce final. A hearing to do that had been set for December.
"We can get [divorced] today, and you can go on with your life," Mark Castillo told his wife, who was seated on an adjacent chair.
With the judge prepared to finalize the divorce, though, Castillo dropped another bombshell:
"Before you grant it," he told the judge, "I would like to kiss my wife one more time."
Amy Castillo let out an exasperated laugh as Rubin seemed to briefly consider the matter.
"It's unorthodox, I know," the judge said, turning his gaze to Amy Castillo and her attorney, Eric S. Namrow. He ultimately rejected the request and granted the divorce.
After the hearing, Amy Castillo said she could not help but feel sad throughout the proceedings. Mark and Amy Castillo were married almost 10 years ago and had separated in December 2006.
"This is not how I wanted my family to turn out," she said. "It's the loss of a dream, the end to a dream of having family and children."