After around only an hour and a half of deliberations, a five-woman, seven-man jury found Julian Castillo not guilty of indecency with a child by contact on Thursday evening, Jan. 12, 2012.
A number of testimonies from the defense were heard on the second day of the trial — including the defendant himself, in the 32nd Judicial District Court in the Nolan County Courthouse.
Castillo took the stand around 1 p.m. on Thursday as the last witness for the defense. His background and the history of his first marriage was presented, as well as when he first met the victim's mother, Sandra Herrera, and dated her in the eighth grade for around two years. When her family moved back into the Roscoe area, they picked up their friendship, which eventually became a relationship and marriage.
The living arrangements between their children was mentioned, but he stated that he was unsure of where the victim — an eighth grader at the time — was living in May 2002. Their marriage disintegrated, however, when Herrera found some suspicious phone records from Castillo.
They attempted to reconcile at one point and did so for two months, but were divorced in December 2007. He began dating and eventually met Evangelina, whom he married in October 2010.
In discussing May 2002, he didn't remember anything in particular except his wedding anniversary. Castillo stated that things and relationships were good between him and Herrera and her children, who he gradually got to know.
Also in May 2002, he was working for his late brother-in-law, later to work at Georgia Pacific in May 2004. While working with his brother in law, he never remembered getting off of work early.
The gaming system — a Nintendo 64 — was in the living room, according to Castillo, though at one time it was in the room the boys slept in.
When asked by the defense, Castillo said he was never attracted to or touched the victim, never disciplined her, or never massaged her shoulders as that was not the nature of their relationship.
He also stated that his son, Anthony Castillo, never spoke of a sexual encounter with the victim; they never conspired to go after the victim sexually. In addition, the victim never seemed distant toward Castillo.
Defense attorney Jacob Blizzard then asked Castillo about his interview with Sgt. Brock Carter in that he never asked why he was being interviewed because he thought it was from writing a hot check in December 2008. He was nervous in the first part of the interview because he thought he was going to be arrested.
He answered the questions presented to him by Carter, but was shocked to find out about the accusation and denied it. He became emotional on the stand, saying he was "heartbroken" from the accusation and that he didn't do anything to the victim.
Castillo also noted that he had some flings with Herrera after their divorce, but stopped after some time because he wanted to settle down. He was to split the divorce finances between Herrera, but never paid and knew that she eventually had her house foreclosed.
He didn't know, however, of Herrera's bitterness toward him. Castillo was also aware that she accused him and Anthony of breaking into her house; the riding lawnmower that he took was agreed upon, according to Castillo.
He noted that he saw the victim again in November 2008 while at Fuller's grocery store in Colorado City and that she waved at him and didn't seem afraid. A second instance was when he saw her at the Azteca.
Castillo additionally noted that Herrera could possibly be responsible for the allegation made against him.
When questioned by District Attorney Ann Reed, he mentioned his employment with his brother-in-law and at Georgia Pacific, in which he said he was fired from the latter due to a safety issue. Currently, Castillo works in Snyder and has for the past two years.
The gaming system was, Castillo stated, in the boys' bedroom along with a small television. He agreed that sometimes the system didn't work and he would help in fixing it. The boys mostly played, and he never saw the girls playing the Nintendo 64, though they sometimes spent time in the room.
Castillo pointed out that he never made the payments regarding the divorce because of his own financial problems. When he saw the victim at Azteca, he said she was working and carrying a tray with her and only hugged him from the side.
He again noted that he couldn't think of any reasons as to why the allegations would be made against him.
The defense then played audio excerpts from Castillo's interview with Carter with a line of questioning. He was unable to tell Carter why he thought he was there because he thought it was from a hot check and Carter never gave him a chance to respond. He didn't have any questions for Carter because he was in shock from the allegation.
Additionally, Castillo did not indicate he had committed the act when he asked why the allegation was made seven years later; he also believed that Carter would do further investigation. He stated that he never talked to Carter again and wasn't updated on the matter.
The state defended that Carter was only observing the fact that he never asked why he was there, and that Carter noted that it was uncommon for an outcry of assault to be made by someone so young. While he didn't have any questions for Carter, he had his contact information and could have reached out, though his lawyer made contact with Carter.
Other testimony was heard leading up to Castillo starting on Thursday morning. Jimmy Kingston first took the stand, an employer at Georgia Pacific. A copy of employment history records from the company was admitted into evidence, which noted that Castillo was hired in May 2004 until March 2010. Kingston noted to defense attorney Blizzard that he did not work at Georgia Pacific prior.
When questioned by District Attorney Reed, Kingston said he did not know who Castillo worked for before joining Georgia Pacific. While contractor companies have been on site in the past, the witness wasn't aware if Castillo was. The document also stated that Castillo was "involuntarily terminated", to which Kingston said it meant being fired.
Next on the stand was Anthony Castillo, the son of Julian Castillo. He lived with his father and Herrera at the time of the alleged incident.
Anthony claimed that the game system along with a television was not in his bedroom but in the living room. He also said that he never touched the victim inappropriately as she claimed.
Furthermore, he noted that the victim was hardly at home but with her dad and that he and the victim didn't really have a relationship as a result. Thus, they rarely interacted and he never recalled being alone with her or any other family member in the house.
Anthony additionally added that he never found his stepsister to be attractive, seeing her as a little sister and hardly ever hugged her. He, in fact, was much closer to his own siblings.
He stated that the reason his former step sister made the false accusations was because she wanted attention. Anthony recalled running into her one time at a restaurant while she was with Herrera, but didn't seem fearful. After that instance, he never had contact with her.
The state questioned Anthony's claim that the victim didn't live in the same house as he did, in which he stated that she spent her summers at the house as she lived with her dad.
He also reiterated that televisions were only in the living room and the victim's sister's room and the game system was only in the living room.
Anthony also said that sometimes the victim would act goofy and funny to get attention. He added that, when he was interviewed by Sgt. Carter, there was no reason for the victim to make such a claim — everyone seemed to get along in the blended family.
The state then entered a judgment of theft on Anthony Castillo into evidence, which was initially objected by the defense but allowed in by Judge Glen Harrison.
The defense brought up the conspiracy idea — that both Anthony and Julian were aware of each other's assaults on the victim, to which Anthony said there wasn't. He didn't recall the day or the month of the alleged assault from Julian because it never happened.
Anthony also discussed his theft conviction, which stemmed from a contract that fell through with an employer of money that was not fully paid. The defense noted that the theft was not because he stole the money.
He also told the state that he remembers the family being all together at times but spent most of his time with friends. Anthony also recalled his father working for Herrera's late brother and his work attire of jeans and a long-sleeved shirt.
The third testimony heard was from Brittney Shumaker, a friend of the victim from high school and even after graduating. However, their contact today is limited only to Facebook.
Shumaker told the defense that the victim never told her about the sexual assaults from Julian and Anthony; but, she did know Amber Watzl, a friend of the victim who testified on Wednesday that she had been told of the assault a year and a half later.
Shumaker said that she was closer to the victim than Watzl in that she was always with the victim's house every day during their friendship. She also noted, however, that the victim lied about a variety of things to her on many occasions but wasn't mad at her.
Shumaker also testified that she was around the victim after Castillo and Herrera divorced, noting that Herrera had a problem with Castillo. She recalled a time when one of their friends made a prank call to Castillo for Herrera.
It was also acknowledged that the victim spoke to Shumaker about sexual relationships. She also recalled of when the victim did drugs and how she was around the victim and Watzl the first time she tried them. She also remembered that the victim would steal items.
Shumaker added that after the divorce of the victim's parents, her mother would allow her to do what she wanted. Around 19 years old, the two girls stopped hanging out with each other.
When questioned by the state, Shumaker noted that the victim did in fact live in Roscoe throughout high school and that Anthony was always with friends. The two girls would hang out at the house or at Shumaker's house, but they never played video games.
Shumaker also pointed out to the defense that the victim would go to live with her father during the summer, and that she never saw Julian Castillo be inappropriate.
Lisa Nguyen was the next person to take the stand for the defense. She knew Herrera from doing her nails at Elegance Salon in Sweetwater, and stated that they had been friends since 1996 that talked about a variety of things. However, they have not interacted for the past two years.
But, Nguyen noted that Herrera expressed bitterness toward Castillo for leaving her and was depressed and angry as a result in that he was able to move on with his life.
Nguyen also told the state that she was aware that Castillo didn't pay for his financial part of the divorce because Herrera told her. She also stated that the victim would also sometimes come in with Herrera, but only talked about Castillo when she wasn't around.
Following Nguyen on the stand was Evangelina Castillo, the wife of Julian Castillo. She said she met the victim at the Azteca while with Castillo and her sister after she saw Castillo and the victim interact. She said that the victim gave him a hug and that she didn't seem afraid or anxious.
She also stated that she saw Herrera at another instance at the Azteca while in the restroom, and made a comment she believed was intended for her that people would eventually find out that Castillo wasn't a good man like people thought.
The state brought up the timeline of when Evangelina met Castillo from when they first began dating and when they were married. She also noted that she wasn't aware of his financial responsibility with Herrera or the instance when he allegedly stole from her house.
Castillo then took the stand and following his testimony — which lasted nearly an hour and a half, the defense rested their case. Following the reading of the charge by Judge Harrison — indecency with a child by contact, a second degree felony, closing and final arguments began shortly after 4 p.m.
Reed asked the jury to look at the victim as an eighth grader who endured a traumatic experience in her home, with someone she thought she was safe with. Being told not to tell of the incident, the pain and the act itself led to her path and choices of life.
The testimony from Leann Hicks, the counselor seen by the victim, verified the actions made by a sexual assault victim. The incident and its nightmares as a result, were not figments of the victim's imagination or made up.
She made her outcry after seeing her assailant again and being reminded of what happened, and even was hesitant in telling her mother. The reality of the incident was also based upon telling Watzl a year and a half later. Her other friend Brittney Shumaker, however, pointed the victim out as a liar.
The victim's mother even found herself feeling guilty because her daughter lived with the hurt for over seven years.
When Castillo was interviewed by Carter, he stated that there was no reason for the allegation to be made up. The verbatim use of "conspiracy" was never used by the victim, though she knew the two sexual assaults on her were similar in nature.
The state pointed out that Castillo never asked why he was being interviewed by Carter, and that the emotion he displayed — after the interview — was unusual. Castillo's own testimony was similar to that of the victim, except for the fact that he inappropriately touched her.
The incident, in fact, did happen and the defendant lied about what occurred.
Blizzard stated that the witness was not credible, thus it was not enough to find his client guilty. The state was not explaining the accusation, but wanted proof as to why the accusation was made.
The bitterness from Herrera against Castillo was not known to him, but to others, such as Nyugen. The defense also noted that a sexual assault victim would not go and hug their assailant, as the victim did when she saw Castillo at the club.
The small facts of the case — like the gaming system and where Castillo worked — were irrelevant. The credibility of the witness, however, was in that she told a younger friend, Watzl — who denied doing drugs before admitting it — a year and a half later.
Shumaker's testimony also noted her and the victim's drug use, but her relation to the Castillo family was also irrelevant.
The victim thought that Castillo and his son Anthony did in fact pursue her together. However, both Hicks and Herrera noted that the notion seemed unusual.
The victim also lied about her drug abuse when her drug history from her medical record was questioned. The drugs and its long term effects were part of the reason why she made up the assault, which she said also prompted her to make poor life choices.
She also lied about the reason behind her suicide attempt, when the record stated it was from a breakup and not from the assault or her outcry, which allowed her to get the attention she wanted.
Castillo didn't ask why he was being interviewed by Carter because he wasn't given a chance and also because he thought it was from the hot check he wrote. The defense also pointed out that the ending of the relationship and flings between Castillo and Herrera created her bitterness toward him, which was noted in Nyugen's testimony.
The victim, though she had nightmares, couldn't recall the date of the incident. Castillo, on the other hand, had been honest in his testimony and the evidence presented pointed to the lies and shows Castillo's innocence.
Reed then offered a brief final argument, referring back to the defense's closing argument. The testimony from Hicks stated that the conspiracy was unusual but not impossible. While she felt there was more to the victim's story, it was not inaccurate.
The idea of Castillo being a good man, as portrayed by the defense, could not be upheld. Castillo had been arrested on a DWI conviction, had walked out on his family and failed to pay for his part of the divorce, wrote hot checks and was fired from his employment with Georgia Pacific.
The victim didn't want the attention; she was hesitant in telling what had happened to her and cried on the stand in recalling the incident. Things that Castillo did during the interview — like not asking about the reason as to why he was there — were done to avoid prison.
Additionally, the reason he gave to Herrera as to why they couldn't reconcile — he did something that he couldn't forgive himself of — points to something big, which she still wasn't aware of.
The statements concluded around 5 p.m., and the jury was sent back to deliberate.