Loudoun Judge Denies All Defense Motions.
Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Sincavage upheld Braulio Castillo’s first degree murder conviction at a hearing Dec. 8 in Leesburg.
Castillo’s lawyers, led by Peter Greenspun, had filed a motion to overturn the conviction on the grounds that the prosecution made inappropriate comments not based in evidence during their closing arguments, and that the lead investigator Mark McCaffrey was not credible due to actions in an unrelated homicide investigation. Greenspun also submitted a motion to remove Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Nicole Wittmann and county prosecutor Alejandra Rueda from further proceedings.
Sincavage denied all motions. He stated that the Commonwealth made no errors in submitting evidence, and that Wittmann did not make inappropriate comments in her closing statements as the court had instructed jurors that opening remarks and closing arguments were not evidence. He also stated that “outbursts” by witnesses did not create prejudice against Castillo.
On the motion to dismiss based on government misconduct via McCaffrey’s report, Sincavage said the report was in regards to an unrelated case and not admissible under a Virginia statute. The court reviewed McCaffrey’s role in the Castillo investigation and did not find any bias against the defendant.
“The court finds the trial produced a verdict of confidence,” Sincavage said.
Sincavage heard arguments from both sides during a six hour hearing Dec. 5.
Castillo, of Ashburn, was charged with breaking into the home of his wife, Michelle Castillo, on March 19, 2014 and strangling her in her bedroom. The prosecution argued that he then moved her to the basement bathroom and hanged her from the shower with an electrical cord to make her death appear as a suicide. The couple were in the final stages of what the prosecution described as a contentious divorce, which she cited as motive throughout the case.
Castillo was found guilty by a Loudoun County jury of first degree murder, breaking and entering with the intent to murder, and violating a protective order in June 2016 after a six week long trial.
Castillo’s sentence will be announced at 1 p.m. on Dec. 9.