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HomeNewsArchivesJudge Sets June 10 for Start of Castillo Trial

Judge Sets June 10 for Start of Castillo Trial

April 18, 2008 – A June 10 trial date was set by V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar Friday morning to hear the case of Daniel Castillo, charged last year with murdering 12-year-old La'Quina Hennis.
Hollar set June 9 for jury selection, with the trial immediately following. At a Monday hearing in the matter, attorneys were unable to agree on a date acceptable to all. Hollar admonished assistant Attorneys General Kelly Evans and Jesse Bethel and public defender Harold Willocks to consult this week and come up with an agreeable date.
Hollar was concerned about jury selection because of the nature of the high-profile trial. She earlier had denied a motion by the defense for a change of venue to St. Croix.
Castillo is accused of killing Hennis and stuffing her body in a plastic bin at his Sugar Estate residence. In February, Hollar ruled his confession acceptable in court. (See "Judge Upholds Confession by Hennis Murder Suspect") .
Hollar on Monday said she would have to recall jurors from a prior panel to fill the courtroom with her goal of 100 to 120 potential jurors, she said. In a questionnaire sent out earlier, only 50 of 120 potential jurors said they could take the time to be sequestered. "Because of the publicity, we need an entire panoply of jurors to ensure a fair trial," Hollar said.
Hollar said Friday, she anticipated the jury to have a verdict in by June 15, a Sunday, allowing for anyone who couldn't debate on Saturday for religious reasons, such as a Jewish or Seventh Day Adventist juror.
A major concern of Willocks, which he voiced Monday and again Friday, is that the FBI lab in Quantico, Va. have the forensic test results from the crime scene available in time for his expert, also in the states, to examine them. Bethel said the FBI will have test results available by May 19.
Evans and Bethel have said their case is not dependent on the test results and could proceed without them. Speaking out of the courtroom Friday, Bethel elaborated. "It doesn't require proof," Bethel said. "We already have his confession which is not suppressible based on a Fifth Amendment violation. We also have crime scene evidence from where the body was found, in an abandoned residence at Eighth Street in Sugar Estate."
That address is listed in prior arrest records as Castillo's last known residence.
Willocks brought up questions on the quality of an audio tape of Castillo's confession. The prosecutors said they would have an audible tape along with a transcript ready for Hollar to listen to before the dates she specified.
Hollar said all forensic evidence must be on St. Thomas by May 16 and any motions regarding anything pertaining to the trial must be filed by May 23.
She admonished the three attorneys: "It's going to be a long trial," Hollar said. "Exchange exhibit lists. Find out right now if there will be objections about what can be admitted. See what can be stipulated informally. You are intelligent attorneys; between you, find these things out right now."

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