Victim takes the stand in Castillo case

January 12, 2012

The first day of testimony in the Julian Castillo trial began on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 at the Nolan County Courthouse, with the state presenting their whole case and the defense beginning their case by presenting an audio recording.
Castillo is charged with two counts — aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child — from an incident occurring around May 15, 2002. Opening statements were heard from both the state and defense, 32nd Judicial District Attorney Ann Reed and defense attorney Jacob Blizzard.
Reed noted that the victim was an eighth grader at the time of the incident and two weeks prior was inappropriately touched by her stepbrother. Following the incident between the victim and Castillo, she was told not to tell her mother and for several years kept silent on the issue.
Her actions and life, however — which showed symptoms of a sexual assault victim, eventually led her to reveal the incident, in which the victim's mother sought assistance from counselor Leann Hicks.
Defense attorney Blizzard stated that the victim's testimony could not be trusted due to her troubled past, variations of the account and its timeline, and based on the fact that she reported the incident seven years later.
He also said that the police investigation was not extensive enough and that when the allegations were placed on his client, Castillo was shocked.
The victim, who is now 22 years old, was the first person to take the stand for the state, who offered an emotional testimony of when she was inappropriately touched by her stepbrother and then by her stepfather in a two-week timeframe.
She recalled being told by Castillo that if she told her mother what happened, that their marriage could be ruined. She left their house in Roscoe and fled to a park near her home and waited for her mother to arrive, but didn't tell her because of fear.
The victim noted that no other incidents occurred and she never spoke of it, even as her mother and Castillo's marriage eventually dissolved four years later.
She eventually moved to Amarillo twice for a short time with friends, where she took employment as a dancer and involved herself with drugs and alcohol. She also recollected on her time in high school in Roscoe, in which she no longer cared about school due to the incident.
However, while in Amarillo the second time, the victim testified to attempting suicide. She later moved to Sweetwater, and from the build up and alcohol abuse, she sent a text message to her mother. The next morning, the two met up and the victim told her mother she had been hurt by her former stepbrother and stepfather.
The victim told her mother's counselor of the incident — who she still meets with — and they went to the local Sheriff's Office to offer a statement.
In cross-examination, the victim said that she had a rough relationship with her mother and that she moved back and forth between her mother and father because of her friends and other relationships. She noted that her mom didn't like her life choices, including her use of drugs starting at 16 years of age.
The defense then entered the victim's medical records from her time in an Amarillo hospital following her suicide attempt, in which she read an excerpt noting her history with drugs and alcohol. She stated that a breakup and anger from the situation led to the suicide attempt, though the incident with Castillo was also a contributing factor while the drugs helped to numb the pain she felt. However, the defense argued that the drug use and its long term effects led to the suicide attempt.
The victim, in meeting with Hicks, said that she felt that Castillo and his son were aware of each other's sexual assaults and conspired against her because of the similarity in each incident. She said that up until each incident, her relationship with each male was on good terms, and while she feared it could possibly happen again, it was something she never thought about. She did acknowledge that she had and continues to have nightmares of the encounter.
Defense attorney Blizzard also pointed out that the victim had put the wrong place of employment for Castillo in the report, and that the nightmares came as a result of the long term effects from her drug use. The victim only told Hicks of the possible conspiracy between Castillo and his son against her, but never noted in the statement that Hicks typed up for her.
The victim also had one encounter with Castillo while working at the Azteca Bar, where they greeted and hugged each other which brought back memories of the incident.
The state once again questioned the victim, who said that she felt her mother was to blame for the incident because their marriage brought her in contact with Castillo. The victim also testified to telling a friend a year after the incident of what happened, and upon telling her mother years later their relationship improved. However, the defense pointed out that while she told Hicks of the sexual assault, she denied several of her life choices, including drug abuse.
Shortly before 11 a.m., the victim's mother took the stand. Her two marital relationships were briefly discussed, and she and her children along with Castillo and his children were all getting along before the incident. After a short time of when the victim moved back from living with her father, the mother noted that her daughter's demeanor changed and was very closed off.
A timeline was given of how the victim moved back and forth between living with each of her parents and friends, up to the time she reached out to her mother by text message to talk with her. Out of concern, she found out from her daughter that she had been hurt as a child but didn't know what to do or say.
Upon telling Hicks — her personal counselor — about it, she made an appointment for her daughter to meet with her. The following day, the victim told Hicks what took place, in which they went to the Sheriff's Office to speak with Sgt. Brock Carter and file a report. She lived with her mother after revealing the incident, but moved back to Amarillo for a few months. The mother suspected her daughter's drug use and was concerned about her lifestyle and made attempts to talk to her about it, as their relationship had improved.
When questioned by the defense, she said she tried talking to her daughter about her life in order to become a better person. They also brought up her divorce from Castillo and some financial problems that followed as a result from the proceedings. Her first divorce from the victim's biological father and her feelings toward him were also discussed.
The mother clarified that Castillo worked for her late brother on location at Georgia Pacific, but was not employed with the company until after the incident. She also stated that she never suspected him of doing anything to her daughter but only knows of the account her daughter spoke of, though was not aware of any conspiracy.
She also believed that the victim's rebellion against her as a teen, her drug use and suicide attempt were related to the sexual assault. Her behavior did improve, however, upon becoming pregnant with her first child. The defense also broke down the times the victim moved back and forth between her mother and her biological father.
When the state questioned her again, the mother said that she was surprised to find out about Castillo's alleged assault which was a violation of trust. The timeline was mentioned between Castillo and the mother's marriage leading up to their divorce, and in one instance when the mother asked if they could reconcile, she said Castillo noted that he did something that he could never forgive himself of.
She told the defense that she knew Castillo was seeing someone else during their divorce proceedings; back when she had a family with him, she saw Castillo's son as her own and trusted him before learning of his encounter with her daughter. However, she told the state that because of Castillo's actions toward her daughter, she felt guilty of what happened to her and her rebellion toward her, and in retrospect understands why her daughter acted that way.
After an extended lunch recess, Leann Hicks testified for the state, noting general observations of how a young teenager would act out and behave having been a victim of sexual assault and not being immediately treated. She said that with the victim, she saw similar symptoms — such as withdrawal, extreme fear and anger — and that it would be rare for a 12-year-old to outcry about her assault. Hicks also confirmed to being present and typing up the statement for the victim.
While being questioned by the defense, she stated that the symptoms, however, could occur from drug abuse, but that each person displayed different symptoms. In addition, each person also has different ages in speaking about sexual incidents and each case proves different.
Hicks stated that the mother told her to speak with her daughter because she only knew her daughter had been hurt as a child. The victim told her that she believed Castillo and his son were both aware of what each had done to her, but never noted that in the written statement. The conspiracy noted by the victim, according to Hicks, was a very rare idea. She did, however, believe there was more to the victim's story but did believe what she was told.
She has counseled the victim for a little over two years, but does not discuss her personal life in detail. She initially denied some issues — like relationships and partying — because of what Hicks believed to be embarrassment. She spoke with the victim after her suicide attempt in Amarillo, in which she said that the nightmares played continuously in her mind but never went into detail. The victim later told Hicks that she was fearful from seeing her former stepbrother and recalled seeing Castillo at the Azteca.
The final witness to take the stand for the state was a childhood friend of the victim who found out about the incident from the victim a year after it occurred. She attempted to comfort the victim and never told anyone of what she was told.
She acknowledged to the defense that she wasn't very close to the victim now due to distance and has not spoken with her about the case. She never told anyone because she didn't know what to do, though she wanted to do something.
At this time, around 2:15 p.m. the state rested their case. After a brief recess, the defense began their line of testimony by calling up Sgt. Brock Carter of the Nolan County Sheriff's Office.
Carter was the investigator on the case and presented the case to the District Attorney's office. He was informed of the victim through her interaction with Hicks and he stated that he interviewed the victim, her mother, Castillo and his son.
Carter noted that he believed that Castillo wasn't being honest or innocent due to the fact that during his interview, he never asked why he was there. The defense presented a complaint against Castillo on a hot check, presuming that Castillo believed that was the reason he was meeting with Carter, thus never asking. Carter noted that each person — whether innocent or guilty — can act differently, but this particular case was out of the ordinary.
However, Carter stated that upon interviewing Castillo's son, he didn't seem nervous or seem to be hiding something. He also never suspected or heard about the conspiracy between Castillo and his son against the victim.
During his interview with Julian Castillo, Carter said that he denied the allegation and seemed shock. Toward the end of the interrogation, Castillo began to cry.
Carter also noted to the defense that he didn't investigate the backgrounds of those that he interviewed because he didn't deem it relevant to the case.
At this time, an audio recording of the interview between Castillo and Carter was entered into evidence. The recording, around 30 minutes, was played for the jury along with a powerpoint presentation that highlighted quotes from the interview.
Upon going through some background history of Castillo, Carter finally asked Castillo why he never asked as to why he was being interviewed. The defense then stated that Castillo was never given the chance to answer.
They also pointed out Castillo's surprise when hearing of the accusation made against him by his former stepdaughter, and Carter notes that she described in detail as to what happened. Castillo denied the accusation, saying that it was the "worst thing" he could think of. He also said that he was careful around her due in part to the "bad stepparent" stigma given by the media and in entertainment.
The defense stated that Carter gave him the benefit of the doubt, and Carter also informed Castillo not to discuss the situation with anyone — because rumors could be made — and that he would be able to speak on the issue later.
Toward the end of the recording, Castillo noted that he could call his girlfriend — who became his wife — if necessary. Carter stated, however, that he never did call her.
He also noted that he only discussed the drug use of the victim with her mother in an unrelated matter, in which the defense discussed the long term effects from drug use, namely crystal meth.
The state recounted how Carter was brought into the case and the process of performing interviews with victims. He noted that the victim was uncomfortable speaking with Carter one on one, in which Hicks was in the room and she typed up the statement with Carter witnessing.
Carter also took a statement from the mother, and he contrasted the process between taking statements and interviews from complainants, witnesses and suspects. He said that with suspects, the interview tends to be more lengthy and a rapport has to be established in order to ease the situation and relax the one being interviewed.
Also, Carter stated that in all of his interviews with presumed sexual assault suspects, Castillo was the only one he could recall who never asked as to why he was being interrogated. He also interpreted some statements made by Castillo like he was defending himself, as if the action had already occurred.
Around 4:50 p.m., presiding judge Glen Harrison called court into recess for the day. The trial continued on Thursday morning, Jan. 12, 2012 beginning at 9 a.m.

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