The gallery was packed, with more than 50 people — a hand full wearing Michelle Castillo’s favorite color, orange — all watching quietly as Judge Stephen E. Sincavage of the Loudoun County Circuit Court sentenced Braulio Castillo to life in prison on Nov. 9.
A Loudoun County jury found Castillo guilty of first degree murder, breaking and entering with the intent to commit murder, and violating a protective order in June, after a six-week-long trial. Sincavage sentenced him to life in prison for the first degree murder charge, 15 years for the breaking and entering charge, and one year for violating the protection order — to be served consecutively.
“The sentencing is not about if Mr. Castillo is a good person or not, it’s about his conduct,” Sincavage said. “The loss of Michelle Castillo is broad, deep, profound and irreparable.”
Castillo’s oldest son, Nicholas Castillo spoke prior to the sentencing about how the murder of his mother has affected him and his wife, Hannah. He said he misses being able to go to her for advice. Knowing she will never be able to hold her future grandchildren also hurt.
“I miss my mom. I don’t know how else to say it,” Nicholas Castillo said. “A part of my life has been taken and I can’t put it back.”
Victoria Castillo also spoke about how much she misses her mother, as well as the foster parents of the minor Castillo children, Stephanie and David Meeker. The Meekers, who were close family friends of the Castillos, went from a family of four, to a family of eight overnight. Though it has been difficult since Michelle was murdered, they’ve tried their best to all love and care for each other.
Luz Castillo-Fuentes, Braulio Castillo’s older sister, also spoke pleading the court show her brother leniency. Sincavage also received several letters in support of Castillo to consider.
Castillo’s attorney, Peter Greenspun, also asked for the court to show Castillo leniency and mercy, and to consider his role as a successful businessman and charitable nature. Greenspun also said Castillo’s five children should have the opportunity to have a relationship outside of jail and asked the judge to consider giving Castillo a lower sentence so that his children could have the opportunity to make amends with their father, should they wish.
In her final comments before sentencing, Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Nicole Wittmann said she found it ironic that Castillo was now asking for mercy after not showing his wife any when he abused her, hurt her enough that the court granted her a protective order, or when he murdered her. She found it particularly ironic that the defense made a plea on behalf of the children.
“He left her there, dead for hours for the kids to find,” Wittmann said.
Castillo had been in the final stages of a contentious divorce with his wife, Michelle Castillo in the spring of 2014. The prosecution said Castillo was going to lose his house to Michelle and would owe thousands of dollars of child support for their five children. The two were living apart but within a half mile of each other in Ashburn.
On March 19, 2014 Castillo broke into his wife’s home when everyone was asleep, smothered her with a pillow, strangled her and hanged her with an electrical cord in a basement bathroom to make her death appear as a suicide. Castillo was arrested on April 1, 2014.