Felony charges filed against Paul Ray Castillo

September 21, 2011 8:07:53 PM PDT
The San Jose man accused of a deadly crime spree made his first court appearance Wednesday. Police are still working the case, looking for the people they say helped him escape capture.

Paul Castillo appeared to be crying when he walked into court Wednesday afternoon. His eyes locked with two younger men he knew in the crowd and his sobs became more evident.

Castillo is a three strikes candidate who now faces eight felony counts, including murder with special circumstances.

"He's looking at life with without the possibility of parole or potentially death if we decide plus an additional 237 years to life," Deputy District Attorney James Leonard said.

Castillo's public defender says he will fight any attempt to seek the death penalty and believes his client has mental issues that could play a role in the defense strategy.

"I've spoke with him briefly at the psychiatric unit of the jail; he was crying uncontrollably, you might have seen that was the case today and he's on a 15 minute suicide watch," public defender Kenneth Mandel said.

(A 15 minute suicide watch means a jail officer is checking on Castillo every 15 minutes.)

That demeanor is in sharp contrast to a deadly crime spree that prosecutors now say started Sept. 6 with a car theft and escalated Friday morning at a San Jose gas station. Police say Castillo shot one man and then later carjacked and kidnapped a woman and then killed her.

Now police are looking for two people connected to the Tree House medical marijuana collective who they say hid Castillo and helped him escape to west Sacramento where police arrested him Sunday night.

"To know that there were people on the side of this person as he was shooting and kidnapping people, that is a hard thing to swallow and to find out on the back end is very disheartening," San Jose Police Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.

Friends and family of murder victim Cindy Nguyen say they are not focused on the crime or the accused. They want to celebrate Nguyen's extraordinary life.

"If you truly know Cindy then you must know she love everybody the same way," co-worker Nick Pham said.

The candlelight celebration for Nguyen's life will take place Friday night. Paul Castillo will be back in court Oct. 5.

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